During the 2012 presidential election, many social media experts were speculating about the role of social media in the path and outcome of the race. Some went as far to call the election for Obama based on the fact that his campaign appeared to focus more on social media marketing than Romney’s.
How do we know if the use of social media helped Barack Obama win a second term? Well, that would require massive amounts of research that I have not done. In the meantime, we can assess the use of social media by each candidate and learn from their mistakes in a fun themed list. Hooray!
If you use social media for your business, you’ve probably read several lists outlining the “deadly sins” of social media use. There are certainly plenty out there to find. That’s why I’ve compiled my own list of some of the most commonly mentioned sins so that we might explore which 2012 presidential candidate committed more of these crimes.
Now that we know the winner, who was more of a social media sinner?
#1 ) Too Much Selling
One of the worst things you can do with your social media account is use is purely for sales. Constant posts about how great you are and why we should buy your products are the best way to annoy your fans and drive them away. Both candidates do their fair share of selling themselves. On each Facebook page, they balance the selling points with fun bits such as pictures taken on the campaign trail and family photos. Once you get on Twitter, the difference between the candidates is striking. While Obama’s Twitter includes fun photos and, closer to Election Day, informational resources for voters, Romney’s page is post after post of campaign slogans.
Sinner: Mitt Romney
#2 ) Account Neglect
This is a very common sin. Creating a social media account and then doing nothing with it can actually damage your online reputation. Both candidates were active with the big boys - Facebook and Twitter. With social media’s favorite up and comer Pinterest, we see this sin on both sides. However, Romney is much more guilty, with only 79 pins across 11 board on his account. Obama has 238 pins across 13 boards. However, Obama is guilty of neglecting the Internet’s most misunderstood social media platform: Google+. There’s a huge gap in posts in the month before the election - a serious sin on a platform that boasts over 100 million active users.
#3 ) Account Saturation
The only thing more annoying than constant sellers is spammers. If you post too much as a business, people will think you’re desperate for attention and soon grow tired of you clogging their feed, leading to unfollows and unlikes. This rule doesn’t apply as much if you’re a well respected individual or corporation who is known for providing accurate information. Keep in mind that a small business should not post as much as these two did. However, the Obama campaign might be seen as guilty on their Twitter account., where dozens of posts each day were the norm. Often they would end up live tweeting Obama’s speeches word for word. Seems like a live video would have been more efficient and less irritating. They also go a little overboard on the Tumblr account.
Sinner: Barack Obama
#4 ) Non-Engagement
The main reason that all checkout cashiers at grocery stores haven’t been replaced by self-checkout robots is because customers like to interact with real people. The more you remind your fans that your social media accounts are run by human beings, the better off you’ll be. Responding to comments, retweeting follower tweets, and liking/favoriting things they say are important customer engagement habits. Again, the difference can be seen on the Twitter accounts. The Obama campaign got into the habit of retweeting their follower’s tweets - not only the ones endorsing Obama, but posts asking friends to go out and vote in general. Romney’s Twitter history contains nothing but Romney’s face.
Sinner: Mitt Romeny
#5 ) Just Posting Words
A picture is worth a thousand words. And a video is worth a thousand pictures. Since you don’t want to post too much, you need to be efficient with your posts - choose only those that maximize engagement. The experts have found time and time again that posts with videos are the best, followed by pictures, followed by links, and simple text is the worst. Obama often posts straight up text without an accompanying picture or link on Twitter, while Romney almost always has a link to another page, or at least utilizes the hashtag. Romney also has more videos posted on both his Twitter and Facebook page in the month of October.
Sinner: Barack Obama
#6 ) Negativity
Again, this is a little different in a political campaign. You have to expect some negativity. However, in political campaigns and in business, people respond better to positive messages than to negative ones. Businesses should avoid disparaging comments about competitors, should not under any circumstances antagonize people with complaints, and generally remain positive about any and all events and individuals. While Obama outpaces Romney a bit on the negative Facebook comments, Romney’s Twitter account is far more negative, dedicating an entire hashtag to Obama’s flaws.
Sinner: Mitt Romney
#7 ) Poor Design
This is the one people forget about. Social media accounts are customizable, and good design is always important. Half the reason to have a social media account is for brand awareness, so you need to have a prominent logo on each account and utilize your logo colors on each page. The Obama campaign does this well, using blue colors when possible and making the distinct Obama logo one of the first things you notice on each page. With the Romney accounts, half the time his logo is hidden in a corner of a picture of himself, and the design falls flat on YouTube, Facebook, and Tumblr.
Sinner: Mitt Romney
The score comes to four Romney sins, two Obama sins, and one tie - making the social media sinner the election loser. While there are thousands of factors to consider when trying to figure out how an election was won, the fact that both candidates spent so much effort on so many accounts will tell you that there are at least two people who think it’s an essential aspect of a political campaign. And if you need it to become president, you need it in your business.