2012 U.S. Presidential Debate Winner: Twitter

Among hundreds of social media platforms, Twitter is one of the top 10 most visited websites on the Internet with a worldwide popularity of over 500 million active users by 2012. While it generates over 340 million tweets daily, Twitter is playing a very influential role in people’s social life, in the media industry and even politic campaigns. With 10.3 million tweets, the first US presidential debate between Republican nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama has generated more Twitter buzz than any other political event in the United States. One week later, the vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan generated more than 4 million tweets. Obviously, these incredible numbers helped Twitter steal the thunder of these political giants. It’s needless to say that Twitter has become one of the most powerful stage for people to raise their voices since the microblogging service giant launched in 2006. But Twitter is also a key factor that changed political landscape by providing an interactive space for politicians to communicate and debate with citizens. The interaction goes further…while people watch presidential debates or some other sports events, they are now also busy checking their Twitter feeds, liking on Facebook, or posting .gif on Tumblr. Twitter created a chart revealing the specific moments that generated the most discussion during the 90-minute first debate. The top three moments are showed as below:

  1. Moderator Jim Lehrer quips "Let’s not" when Governor Romney requests a topic;
  2. US President Obama quips "I had 5 seconds" when Lehrer gives time limit;
  3. The discussion about Medicare and vouchers.

Actually, these tweet peaks influenced the media’s reports on the matter. Clay Schossow, co-founder of New Media Campaigns in North Carolina, said "People are telling what stories they want to see… Every network that I looked at had a segment about what happened on Twitter during the debates." "A lot of people watching that network analysis don’t know what Twitter is, but they heard the opinions of Twitter laced throughout the broadcast – whether it was explicit, when a broadcaster reads the Twitter trends, or implicit, when a reporter is influenced by what they see on Twitter," Schossow added. Today politicians are not overlooking the benefits of digital PR. Instead, they are very much aware of its potential. Online campaign and viral ads are now part of the political arsenal. Huffington Post reported President Obama spent $31 million on digital PR since the beginning of his reelection campaign while Romney only paid $8.1 million on digital ads. As the result, President Obama’s 20.8 million Twitter follower amount is far ahead of Romney’s 1.4 million. Now you understand why presidential campaign videos pop up when you are trying to watch videos on Youtube. If we need to pick up a winner of who gets most attention from public during the presidential debate, there’s shouldn’t be too much doubt to give this title to Twitter. Want to know how it can be used to help your business grow in Asia or Social Media? Leave us a comment or get in touch with EASTWEST.

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