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.

SEO is almost constantly evolving, growing and becoming more complex, but regardless of how search engine optimization techniques change; content will always be an important component of online marketing initiatives.

While a majority of my posts emphasize the benefits of rich content and multimedia within Internet marketing campaigns, the role of blogs, articles and other on-site text is as crucial as ever before.  In fact, creating more effective and “SEO-friendly” content is a primary objective of many campaigns.

Since Google’s Panda and Penguin updates made their now-infamous debuts, words like “quality” and “relevance” have become prevalent in the SEO community, but creating strong, relevant content is only the first step.  Search engines actually encourage the promotion and distribution of such content and have even developed useful tools to help authors achieve greater visibility within the SERPs.  The following strategies are amongst the most effective in the industry for authors and marketers looking to enhance the reach and visibility of their content:

Utilizing Authorship
When properly utilized, Google Authorship can be an excellent resource for content creators and can help to increase overall visibility and social engagement within Google+.

Chris Countey - Google Authorship

Notice how a Google search of the term “Chris Countey” returns results from sites on which our own SEO guru is featured as an author?  Additionally, when Chris is mentioned by other contributors with authorship enabled, those results appear prominently on the SERP, as well.  Authorship offers distinct advantages to content creators and definitely provides value within SEO campaigns.

Social Media Promotion
Outside of G+, networks such as Facebook and Twitter provide prime promotional real estate.  Sharing, tweeting and liking have played a part in social media marketing and optimization campaigns for quite some time now, but using these platforms to promote blog posts, articles and other content has also helped many SEOs achieve greater success and higher visibility.

PR & Media Outreach
There are opportunities for content creators that go beyond guest blogging and social promotion.  PR efforts such as press releases, media outreach and interviews provide major platforms for content creators to enhance their audience on a local, national and even global scale.  Some Internet marketing firms are already offering PR services and more are likely to jump on the bandwagon in the months ahead due to its proven success.

Speaking of PR, I’ll be presenting at next week’s Agile SEO Meetup and further elaborating on the role of public relations and media outreach within online marketing campaigns.  Click the link to check it out live next Monday (the 12th) at 7pm EST or tune in online via Webex.

As always, I’d like to hear your thoughts on content marketing and optimization and all things SEO.  Reach out to me directly at brymshaw@webimax.com or find me on Twitter: @brwebimax.

WebiMax headquarters is located in South Jersey. This is our first day back in the office following Hurricane Sandy. Luckily, we have power and we did not experience the same levels of damage that the NJ Shore, Newark, and parts of Delaware, New York, and New England endured. Our thoughts are with those who lost their homes or worse – their lives. Among all of the chaos and destruction are brave and generous people who are stepping up to help each other everywhere we look – from neighbors helping to clean each others’ yards to people opening their homes and their hearts all over our Facebook news feeds.

There’s no doubt about it – Sandy was a unique storm on many different levels. Not only did she produce once-in-a-lifetime coastal flooding, 80 mph sustained winds, and wide-spread power outages, but social media played an unprecedented part in spreading safety tips, news, photos, and personal updates in real-time by those who were affected as well as by public safety organizations, major news outlets, and even local politicians.

While millions of people kept in touch and joined the conversation on various social media sites, there is one person who stood out to me on my Twitter feed throughout the ordeal: Cory Booker. The Newark Mayor has always had an impressive Twitter presence, but superstorm Sandy proved that Booker is just as in touch with the power of social media as he is with the community he serves.

Since the storm hit, Booker has been driving around with supplies, making house calls to those in need. Here’s is just one example from last night:

Two hours later, this appeared on his Twitter feed:

 

And this is the Newark resident’s current Twitter profile picture, with Cory Booker during the house call (with the toy car he gave her nephew):

When it comes to tragedies, including natural disasters, many people try to find the silver lining or a lesson that can be learned. In this case, one of the lessons is that social sites are communication tools powerful enough to save lives.

Sandy showed us that Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have much more to offer than photos of what your second-cousin-once-removed is eating for dinner (filet and baked beans, in case you’re wondering…); over the past few days, they’ve offered updates to people who are unsure if their homes are still standing, peace of mind to those worried about their loved ones, and hand-delivered diapers to a toddler in Newark, NJ by his Mayor, Cory Booker.

Thank you, @corybooker, and best wishes to everyone in the Northeast in the coming days and weeks.

Recently, Facebook achieved one of its most significant milestones since its launch in 2004 when the company’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the social network reached one billion users on September 14th.  For Facebook, attaining a user base that consists of 1/7 of the world’s entire population is a major accomplishment.  However, many of the small businesses which utilize Facebook as an online marketing and advertising outlet are still skeptical of the network’s ability to enhance their revenues despite having the most massive user base on the Web.

Small business owners are not the only ones concerned with Facebook’s performance as an ad revenue-driven organization.  The company’s stock value remains unimpressive and many investors are reluctant to add Facebook to their portfolios, regardless of the brand’s ever-increasing visibility.  While the announcement has undoubtedly granted the world’s largest social network substantial bragging rights, it has seemingly done little to really enhance the company or its profitability.

However, a more interesting statistic has also been revealed by Facebook as of late that may prove beneficial to their brand.  As of April 2012, the network’s monthly user growth had fallen to 1.74%, the lowest it has been since its 2004 debut.  Today, Facebook claims it has reached 2.04% monthly growth.  This marks the first increase the network has seen in over 13 months and could help to restore investor confidence in the brand going forward.

Although it is critical for Facebook to increase their viability to investors and improve their company’s waning stock values, it is just as important to build consumer confidence.  As a business driven almost entirely by advertising revenue, Facebook must take greater measures to attract advertisers, particularly small to mid-sized businesses which account for a large percentage of online advertising revenue.

Facebook’s audience is clearly larger than ever before and maintains the greatest potential as an advertising and marketing platform; but the company should begin to investigate other revenue streams in order to grow from a fiscal perspective.

E-Commerce is the most likely route and could put Facebook in direct competition with online retailer, Amazon.  The development of a “Facebook Store” could position the company as a formidable competitor and drive up share prices, while simultaneously making Facebook more attractive to advertisers.  Additions of features such as the “Promote” button and the soon-to-be-released “Want” button are definitely steps in the right direction, but a more comprehensive strategy may be necessary.

For now, Facebook’s popularity may be unparalleled, but its profitability is minimal at best.  Business owners have yet to see any discernable benefits from the network’s growth to upwards of 1 billion users and an investment in long-term revenue enhancement should be considered an essential component of Facebook’s business model.  If the network is able to successfully expand its offerings beyond its current capabilities, the future of Facebook will not only be secure, but beneficial to small business owners, as well.