By Kiarra Solomon
In a world that has become so “digitally connected” it is not surprising that throughout the Presidential campaign and on Election Day itself people posted to Facebook, “Instagrammed” themselves actually voting (which may or may not be illegal depending on which state you live in), tweeted their favorite “zingers” during the debates and more. What is surprising though, is the speed at which it happened.
By the time TV news stations began to announce Barack Obama was reelected (around 11 PM), Twitter announced that users were letting off about 327,453 tweets per minute. Wow! Election Day 2012 was the most tweeted political event ever, ending the night with over 31 million tweets. And while so much of it was done in jest, there is so much we can take away from social media’s impact on Election 2012.
Not long after the announcement of his reelection Barack Obama posted a picture of he and Michelle embracing with the caption “Four More Years” which quickly became the most liked picture in the history of Facebook and the most re-tweeted tweet in the history of Twitter. (According to Facebook, me and 3,992,196 other people like the photo).
Donald Trump, decided to take to Twitter to express his unhappiness with the President’s reelection.
And while several newscasters addressed it with humor, my favorite comments were those of NBC’s Brian Williams who said “Donald Trump, who has driven well past the last exit to relevance and veered into something closer to irresponsible here, is tweeting tonight.”
During the President’s acceptance speech on Tuesday night, Twitter (or at least those who I follow) became obsessed and distracted by a woman standing behind Obama with a flag in hair. (LOL)
But the impact of social media sites was prevalent throughout the Presidential campaign as users quickly turned statements from both parties into humorous photos, parody Twitter accounts and rhetorical questions. “Eastwooding” became a trending topic on Twitter after Clint Eastwood spoke to an empty chair at the Republican National Convention. Then there was the obsession with “binders full of women”, which Romney claimed he requested as Governor of Massachusetts during the second Presidential debate, which also became a very popular Halloween costume. @LaughingJoeBiden was created during the VP Debate and sent tweets like “looooooooool” and “hehehe”, later that night “Malarkey” became a trending topic.
After Romney’s concession speech, a parody Twitter account for NJ Gov. Chris Christie tweeted:
And then there were the pictures. All over Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Many were heartwarming, most were hilarious.
Historically, Election 2012 was the most talked about political event ever on social media. The speed at which statements by politicians, pundits, and everyday citizens go viral is mind boggling. Who would have thought that the platforms created as a way to “keep in touch” would transform to users’ own virtual soapboxes.
While political analysts now examine the demographic appeal of both campaigns and where Republicans have gone wrong, a closer examination of social media may also be in order. The Obama campaign’s social media strategy is simply amazing, utilizing all platforms to interact with his constituency.
There is no denying that Obama is “the cool President”, especially to young people. More than ever before, the “young vote” was largely a deciding factor in this Presidential election and in the 2008 election. Granted, in order to appeal today’s young voter, there needs to be a major shift in policy in the Republican party, but if the Republican party was examined as a business, would it show that in this era, it’s marketing campaign is also flawed in its use of social media to engage with its audience? Is social media becoming the key to the political process?
All of these are questions that deserve a much greater examination as the dust clears from this campaign and both parties begin to look towards 2016.