Moffatt said that of the 5.8 million Romney followers currently on Facebook, about 2.4 million are using the online social network to “post about” the candidate and his campaign. A report by “Inside Facebook,” an independent news service of Inside Network, says that the average number of “interactions” per day on Obama’s Facebook page is not much higher than on Romney’s.
The Pew research study, however, finds that the Obama campaign is still active on nearly twice as many digital tools and that the online content it produces generates more responses from users on average. Obama has 28 million “Likes” on Facebook versus Romney’s 5 million. On Twitter, Obama and his campaign have tweeted 5,685 times and enjoy 19,169,596 followers. Romney, in contrast, has tweeted 1,109 times and has 996,729 followers.
The Obama campaign recently showed how it uses social media to its advantage when it responded via Twitter to Clint Eastwood’s impromptu act before the Republican convention Thursday, during which the legendary actor addressed an empty chair meant to be an imaginary Obama.
“This seat’s taken,” the Obama campaign tweeted a day later – and included a photo of the commander-in-chief from behind, sitting in a chair at what appears to be a cabinet meeting.
But all indications this year are that the real action in digital campaigning doesn’t hinge on public-facing social-media networks.
Obama’s online organizing tool, called Dashboard, lets volunteers make phone calls to voters on their own time, working off scripts provided by the campaign and targeting voters in their own personal networks or in their area. A mobile canvassing application, released in July, gives volunteers access to voter information on their smartphones, to increase the efficiency of door-to-door visits and to input new information into the voter database that also includes information on political contributions and responses to survey questions. One Republican digital strategist who is not working for Romney called the Obama app “the most exciting piece of technology in the entire 2012 campaign.”
Social networks may have more muscle when it comes to down-ballot races. A new tool from NGP VAN, the Democratic campaign technology provider, lets volunteers and activists match their Facebook friends against voter lists. Stuart Trevelyan, CEO of NGP VAN, describes the social-organizing tool as “self-serve, on-demand politics” that allows campaign supporters to raise money and get out the vote. It’s being used in state and local races, but it isn’t being adopted by the Obama campaign because Dashboard already functions as a social network all its own.