Putting aside personal beliefs and party preferences, the presidential debate on October 16 night was a real yawner for someone like me who actually wanted to hear some substance. While a good “he said/she said” argument is always entertaining, the funniest parts of the evening didn’t come from the campus of Hofstra University, but instead came from the blog-o-sphere. While the first debate brought us discussions about the importance and cost of Big Bird in our society, the second debate put binders at the forefront of Wednesday morning water cooler talk. Personally I was disgusted by the focus on attacking each other and the lack of quality answers to the questions, but that’s fodder for the political blogs to hash out.
Today’s topic is about the extensive reach and the impact of social media. We’ve seen the impact that social media can have on sharing images and issues that can bring about change – see the Arab Spring. But social media can also give us a pulse check on what voters are thinking at any moment as well as put into perspective the sheer volume of participants. Let’s take a look at some numbers circulating around the Web about the debate:
- By the time the debate was even over, Romney’s description had spawned a Facebook page (which had more than 275,000 “Likes” by mid-morning on Wednesday), a Twitter handle and, perhaps best of all, the website bindersfullofwomen.tumblr.com…” KFMB TV
- Twitter said the conversation peaked at 109,560 tweets per minute when Romney was asked about immigration. In an hour-by-hour count, the site’s “cheermeter” recorded 116,000 tweets favoring Romney to 94,000 for Obama and the Republican leading 111,000 to 101,000 in the second hour. Phys.org
- The 90-minute nationally televised exchange between President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney generated 12.24 million comments on Twitter and Facebook according to Blue Fin Labs, an analytics firm that studies social media’s reaction to televised events. Politico
But social media isn’t just about tossing around opinions and mocking opponents. The idea of micro-targeting specific groups is a very powerful idea. Attensity, a social analytics firm stated that “the most revealing insights related to viewer sentiment and voter intentions came from the swing states: Ohio, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Virginia, and Wisconsin.”
So what can we in the corporate communications world learn from all of this? When you design a campaign for a product launch or corporate event, do your homework and determine the best way to not only reach but to actively engage your audience which. When used correctly, social media can help establish a multi-way dialogue with your target audience rather than simply using one-way communication techniques that hinder a company’s ability to engage in a more meaningful way with their audience.
That said, I leave you with one of the funnier Tweets that I read from the debate courtesy of CNN – “I feel like Obama’s staff stabbed him in the chest w/ the adrenaline needle from Pulp Fiction.”