President Obama’s social media team unleashed a hailstorm of tweets today, galvanizing his followers to support a bipartisan debt ceiling compromise. The Presidential tweets were also aimed directly at his opponents, mostly Republicans, on Twitter. [At the time of publication, @BarackObama was still putting forth updates.]
The President’s previous call to action over debt issues via social media crashed the congressional website, according to widespread reports. That initiative was aimed more generally at U.S. citizens.
Today’s effort garnered a similarly impressive response. CBS News reported: “The Capital call center alerted House offices Friday that the high level of incoming calls [following the Twitter campaign] put the House phone circuits near capacity.”
The Presidential tweets today shined a spotlight on Republicans’ Twitter accounts, which could lead them to gain more social media followers ironically.
Even though Obama’s social media following includes over 9 million on Twitter and a staggering 22 million on Facebook, independent reports via Politifact and researcher Mark Senak find Republican congressmen surpass their democratic counterparts in social media, in terms of raw follower count and number of @replys (even when excluding [PDF] @SenatorJohnMcCain’s 1.7 million followers).
There’s much to learn about how social media influences policy and elections. In the 2010 midterm election, many members of contentious races won despite poor social media count, such as Harry Reid, who was easily outmatched on Twitter by newcomer, Sharon Angle–yet, Reid kept his seat (with a safe electoral cushion).
And according to an official statement by YouTube, Republican 2012 presidential contender Tim Pawlenty holds the crown for most views of a candidate on the video platform, yet is near the bottom of the polls (via RealClearPolitics).
The President used Facebook aggressively and effectively in the 2008 election. Today his team only posted one update there about debt issues. They remained silent on Google+, LinkedIn, and Tumblr. (Where’s the love for Foursquare, Diaspora, and Instagram? Maybe the next campaign.)