Campaigns are gearing up to shape social media reactions in real time.
When President Obama and Mitt Romney take the stage for their first debate in Denver tomorrow night, a far more extensive shadow debate will unfold across social media. Campaigns and supporters will aim to seize the online "conversation" in a vast game of spin unfolding well beyond the telecast and media coverage.
As a sign of just how pervasive and crucial social media has become, in some states elected officials are only one degree of "friend" separation from nearly every Facebook account holder in that state, says JD Schlough, a Democratic political strategist. And by one analyst firm's count, Twitter has 140 million U.S. users, more than 30 million of whom joined in 2012 alone.
"All social media is a conversation, but the amount of people having that conversation in 2012 is a lot greater than it was in 2008. That conversation is going to happen whether the campaign influences it or not—so they better get their message out there and hold the other side accountable for mistakes," Schlough says....
Overall the goal is not just to more broadly deliver a message, but to ensure that it is delivered from trusted friends—the holy grail of marketing. After all, you are more likely to see a movie when a friend recommends it, rather than if you've seen an advertisement.
That's why campaigns want to use all means possible to prime social media to distribute talking points in real-time. "If we know that people believe stuff they hear from friends more than politicians, and one of them does something stupid, or smart—or if there is a contrast on an issue—it amplifies the impact of the debate to hear and to react and add your own spin," Schlough says. "Much like the convention, they will seek to use the social media to capitalize on the good moments and fact-check the hits the other side is throwing."...
[Here's a great analysis of the impact of social media post-debate ~ Jeff]