Obama re-election campaign more active online, says Pew study

Barack Obama's re-election campaign makes far more use of online content than that of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, says a study based on activity from June 4 through June 17.

The study, conducted by the Pew Research Center, finds that on daily average, the Obama campaign sent out 29 tweets for every one that the Romney campaign sent out and posted twice as many blog posts onto the official campaign website--eight on barackobama.com for the four on mittromney.com.

The study only included Twitter accounts that the two campaigns linked to from their website homepage; if another verified Romney Twitter account, @TeamRomney, were to be added to Romney's campaign total, then the ratio of tweets becomes 29 to 6.

Obama posts also generated more online reaction than Romney's; the former had 41,636 Facebook likes to the latter's 18,635 likes.

Neither campaign makes much use of the social aspect of social media, however. Of the 404 Obama campaign tweets, only 3 percent were retweets of citizen posts, while the Romney campaign just retweeted once--a tweet from Romney's son, Josh.

Content from citizens was "only minimally present on Romney's digital channels," the study says. On Obama's, citizen presence was more robust, but restricted to a "news blog" area on the campaign website, "where that content could be completely controlled."

In a change from the 2008 campaign, YouTube has receded in relative importance, becoming the platform with the fewest posts from either candidate. A July redesign of the Obama website now also embeds video links rather than sending viewers to the campaign's YouTube channel, the report notes.

As to whether any of this is important--whether posts posted, likes liked or tweets retweeted matters to the outcome of the election--the report says that there is no simple answer, but that "throughout modern campaign history successful candidates have tended to outpace their competitors in understanding changing communications."

For more:
- download the study, "How the Presidential Candidates Use the Web and Social Media: Obama Leads but Neither Candidate Engages in Much Dialogue with Voters"

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