On Tuesday, the 2012 Republican National Convention officially began in Tampa Bay and less than 24 hours later, terms such as “Mitt Romney”, “Paul Ryan”, “GOP 2012”, “RNC 2012” and “Chris Christie” were still amongst the most frequently searched and discussed topics on the Web. Throughout popular social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, millions of national and even international users have voiced their opinions and thoughts on the candidates and the convention. Despite some delays and initial concerns due to the impending presence of Hurricane Isaac, RNC attendees and online followers have been largely unhindered by inclement weather thus far. In fact, the event is on track to become one of the most significant social trends of 2012 and is anticipated to substantially elevate Mitt Romney’s social following heading into the upcoming Presidential election.
The GOP has promoted the usage of “#GOP2012” on Twitter and their efforts have proven worthwhile, as the term has been consistently appearing on Twitter’s list of worldwide trends since the outset of the RNC. Additionally, the official Twitter accounts of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have experienced a rapid influx of followers since Monday. On Facebook, Romney’s following is at 5.3 million “Likes” and counting, a figure that has dramatically increased since the convention began.
According to search engine and social media analytics tool, Topsy, social mentions of the hashtagged terms “#GOP2012” and “#RNC2012” on Twitter have nearly doubled since Monday and have remained on the rise. As the RNC continues, social engagement will increase and the Republican Party and many of its most prominent members will gain their largest social media following since the 2012 campaign began.
This year’s campaign is not the first to capitalize on the Internet as an organizational, advertorial and promotional tool. In 2008, Obama’s efforts included an emphasis on YouTube videos that were deemed more cost effective than traditional television advertising. Many analysts agree that the strategy was a success, as over 14.5 million hours of video content created by Obama’s campaign was viewed on the Web. The overall visibility provided by social media is now equivalent to or even greater than many forms of traditional advertising and marketing. Although YouTube has played a role in the campaigns of both Romney and Obama this year, Twitter and Facebook have also built momentum since the last election and have become instrumental components of the campaigns of both Presidential hopefuls.
The importance of social media in this year’s election is virtually immeasurable. Both the Republicans and Democrats have used various online platforms to create large-scale visibility for their nominees while keeping their campaigns relatively cost effective. As Obama’s 2008 campaign was seen as a groundbreaking one, this year’s historic campaign will be remembered for its social media impact and may also be the most significant social media trend of 2012.