Throughout this year’s Presidential campaign, Twitter played an instrumental role.  Both candidates expertly utilized the network and kept voters engaged by addressing major issues and promoting their public appearances.  As our own social media expert, Mike Stricker pointed out in a comment on one of my previous posts; Barack Obama was even responsible for generating the most re-tweets in history for a political message on Twitter.

Following the election, Twitter released an interesting new application, the Political Engagement Map, which demonstrates the impact of the candidates’ most influential tweets.

Twitter's Political Engagement Map

The tool breaks down the tweets by state, engagement level and even keywords.  Not only is it intriguing to see which tweets drove the best results for Romney and Obama, but it’s also interesting to learn more about the demographics which had the most online social influence on the campaign itself.

Furthermore, a re-working of the Political Engagement Map application could prove to be very useful to social media marketers in order to learn more about their own engagement levels and demographics.  Although Twitter hasn’t announced any plans to develop the application beyond its current form, it is good to see the network delivering new offerings to its users and I hope to see more tools like this from Twitter in the future.

To check out the Political Engagement Map for yourself, visit https://election.twitter.com/map/.

What do you think about Twitter’s Political Engagement Map?  Leave a comment or reach out to me via email or Twitter!

Earlier today, I read an article posted on Reuters.com discussing the impact of Twitter on this year’s historic Presidential election.  One quote within the article that particularly stood out was:

“Through the course of a long and bitter presidential campaign, Twitter often served as the new first rough draft of history.”

It’s a great point and a hard one to disagree with.  In fact, last night truly displayed the power of Twitter as one of the most significant public media outlets, both on and offline.  A record-breaking 31 million tweets related to the election spread throughout the Web last night, with 23 million of those appearing between 6pm EST and midnight.  Just after 11pm, Twitter users generated an incredible 327,000 tweets per minute leading up to the announcement of Obama’s victory.  According to Twitter’s spokeswoman, Rachael Horwitz, the election was “the most tweeted about event in U.S. political history.”

Although President Obama and Mitt Romney aggressively utilized Twitter during their respective campaigns, last night’s unprecedented social engagement levels truly brought the network to the forefront of mainstream news and media.

Twitter, as well as Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and other prominent social networks, provide a level of both visibility and credibility to individuals and organizations that have proven difficult to achieve through other platforms.  With both candidates extensively using social networks to help gain votes and raise greater awareness to their campaigns, the popularity of these networks has soared and only continues to grow and prove their value as promotional tools.

Last night, history was undoubtedly made as the incumbent President was re-elected.  Before I was even able to get to the nearest TV or radio to find out who would be residing in the White House for the next four years, the following tweet appeared on my Twitter feed:

Today, as Obama begins to prepare for four more years in office, myself and thousands of other social media users will remember the tweet that announced his victory to the world and the instrumental role social media played throughout this historic campaign.

Although this year’s election has been the most expensive in US history to date (with a total price tag of over $2 billion), the most significant platform utilized by both Romney and Obama to enhance their visibility throughout the campaign may, surprisingly, be the most cost effective, as well.  Social media first proved its worth in the political arena during President Obama’s groundbreaking 2008 campaign.  The usage of YouTube and Facebook to connect with a vast, diverse audience had undeniably helped Obama pull ahead in the polls and capture coveted demographics in crucial swing states such as Ohio.

By creating a new form of “digital grassroots” campaign, Obama was able to successfully reach voters who spent more time on Facebook and YouTube than watching C-SPAN or reading political publications.  Additionally, the least expensive element of Obama’s campaign proved to be the social media component, as the President’s social following was largely organic and the campaign’s online ad spend was far less than its print and television counterparts.  The first ever “Social Election” was a complete success and had paved the way for future campaigns.

Fast Forward to 2012…
As the incumbent, Obama now maintains a sizeable lead in terms of social following.  As mentioned by both Todd Bailey and Mike Stricker in our “Social Media & Election 2012” Web series, Obama’s following has been substantially greater than Mitt Romney’s on networks such as Facebook and Twitter since the outset.  However, Romney’s campaign has placed a strong emphasis on social media and this has made the race to the White House much more competitive.

While the size and scope of this campaign has been greater than any before it, the role of social media marketing has played an instrumental role in the overall reach of the campaign.  Going forward, candidates will almost certainly need to make social media a major part of their campaign efforts in order to raise awareness and establish themselves amongst the ever-expanding Internet audience.

As expected, social media is on fire this morning and will continue throughout the day as both President Obama and Governor Romney secure their votes from the American people.  Both candidates have a strong social media presence but it appears the incumbent has a slightly larger lead on Twitter, evidenced by the amount of activity and trending topics that involve Obama and not Romney.

I was speaking with the Washington Post yesterday describing the major role that social media will play on Election Day and it seems to be coming true.  Arguing that President Obama seems to have a stronger social media influence is evidenced today by the fact that 3 out of 10 trending hashtags on Twitter involve President Obama while none represent the Romney / Ryan ticket.  What’s more, President Obama is even running a sponsored and promoted initiative today through Twitter.  This could indicate positive news for the President as Governor Romney has an inferior presence on Twitter today.

An infographic by OpenSite designed to show the impact of social media and the Election indicates that this year, 4 out of 5 adults will gather their election news through the internet.  It furthermore explains that 53 percent of adults will fact-check claims made by both candidates online this year.  The most staggering number is the fact that 40 percent of eligible voters will use social media to help them make their decision this year on who to vote for.  Given these statistics and the current influence of President Obama, he looks to have an advantage.

CNN has one of the better live election maps and is tracking the votes all day as they come in.  NBC News provides a comprehensive 2012 Election Book that includes statistics, battleground map, advertising spending and more.  FOX News also provides a live election map including up to the minute updates from the polls.