The significance of social media is indisputable. While its monetary value is still up for debate, the influential role it plays in users’ lives is inarguable, and that’s become incredibly evident in the world of politics. The fact that campaigns now have Social Media Directors is proof enough that this stuff matters – as in could decide elections matters.
As November nears, it’s becoming increasingly clear that our next president takes social media seriously, and the results have been mixed. Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has particularly had a rough go at attempting to mold the minds of America using these tools. A quick recap on the Romney teams social missteps:
- The “With Mitt” app misspells “America” as “Amercia.” Hilarity and fodder ensue, as you’d expect.
- Romney’s Twitter followers jumped more than 100k followers over 24 hours back in July, causing many of us to assume the campaign bought them. A charge they denied – but suffice it to say there’s a lot of evidence suggesting this was absolutely what happened.
- The Romney donation products appear to copy wording from Obama’s.
And those are just some of the most obvious digital blunders – there are plenty of Romney gaffes that have gone viral thanks to the Internet, but that’s something else entirely. It’s the fact that the presidential candidate’s own efforts to embrace social media have been so cringe worthy that’s raising eyebrows.
Now, the Romney campaign is going on the offensive, trying to prove they – he – gets social media, mostly thanks to a handful of collaborations with some of the Silicon Valley elite and new product implementation. For instance, Romney’s team hit the ground running with Facebook’s new Sponsored Results feature shortly after it was available, and its propriety Square app and reader it’s been using for fundraising. Romney has the new Twitter profile set up, while Obama doesn’t. He’s arguably making better use of the tools at his disposal.
This is all well and good, and these are things that Romney’s campaign – and Obama’s for that matter – should be doing. But the act of using social media to connect is what eludes Romney: He doesn’t exactly seem like a personable guy, and his attempts at humanizing himself using the social Web sound just as measured and calculated,and occasionally awkward as everything else he does. From his laughable overuse of @ pinging President Obama every time he mentions him, to the fact that his Facebook posts are almost entirely written in the first person (as if we’re supposed to believe that he seriously pens each of these posts), it’s clear that painting himself as the Average Joe who uses the Internet just like you and I do simply isn’t within Romney’s reach.
Honestly, this has nothing to do with politics – it’s purely personal. But advocates will point to his social media accounts’ impressive numbers, so they deserve mention. As of press time:
- Romney Twitter followers: 1,187,593; Obama Twitter Followers: 20,195,248
- Romney retweets: 1,184; Obama retweets: NA
- Romney Facebook Likes: 7,457,939;Obama Facebook Likes: 28,930,040
Given the fact that Obama is a veteran here, those are certainly admirable metrics. But there’s one that doesn’t get mentioned very much that also matters quite a bit and reflects outreach efforts:
- Romney following (via Twitter): 269; Obama following (via Twitter): 672, 501
This critique isn’t about political leanings, it’s about the personal touch. All the optimization tools, hashtags, Sponsored Stories, and Promoted Tweets in the world can’t turn a man into a social media master. You have to understand how people talk on Twitter, how they respond on Facebook, and try as the Romney campaign might, the result has simply been to showcase that no, Mitt Romney is just not like you and me – and no amount of social networking can change that.