Battle of the Digital Brands: Obama vs. Romney

As the campaign for leader of the free world ramps up, we decided to take a look at the candidates’ digital arms. In one corner, the incumbent, President Barack Obama. In the other, the challenger, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Understanding that each candidate doesn’t actually post on Facebook or Twitter, we jumped into how each campaign approaches the digital universe. Which one will be elected the winner of the battle of the digital brands?

Barack Obama:
Facebook: The President of the United States has 27 million likes on Facebook and roughly 700,000 people talking about the page. The timeline image is of the First Family smiling happily. In a cheeky move, the president’s timeline starts with his birth certificate. Important dates throughout his life are updated in the timeline, but the meat of it is over the last five years, starting in 2007 when he announced his candidacy for the job he currently holds. Posts range from texts, videos and images of the president, his family, his politics and his policies. If you want to see the Obama brand, Facebook is where to go. There are links to photos and videos; visitors can donate or visit a store or the Obama Network (featured pages for Obama). Being the most recognizable face in the world, the president has a leg up on branding. The posts on his page are heavily trafficked with likes, shares and comments. The electorate see his page as a way to communicate its concerns, hopes and vision of the nation.

Twitter: President Obama has about 16.5 million followers on Twitter, and while he will tweet once in a blue moon (you’ll know because the end of the tweet will have his initials), his team running the account tweets several times a day. As the president is in the beginning parts of the campaign, the feed resembles more candidate Obama than President Obama. Few @ replies or retweets populate the stream. Instead, it’s a heavy dose of Obama, and to a lesser extent, Democrat political discourse. Links to the president’s speeches and images from the campaign trail are in full effect.

YouTube: There are 200,000 subscribers who have watched 2,200 videos about 200 million times. The president’s communications team understands the power of video and uses YouTube to house videos of all things POTUS. The campaign has also included clips of Governor Romney that it hopes to use to persuade viewers that the Governor’s policies are wrong and the President’s is right. We’ll find out what’s reality on November 6th.

Mitt Romney:
Facebook: Mitt Romney has 1.8 million likes and 240,000 people talking about the page. His timeline image is of him and his wife walking arm-in-arm down a warehouse corridor during what looks to be a campaign speech. Links direct visitors to photos, official gear and several user-generated pages, where fans can upload their own photos, videos and thoughts. There’s also a petition to get disaffected youths to sign up, saying they “deserve a president who is serious about creating jobs.” The governor’s timeline starts when he was born and jumps up to 1969, when he married Ann. Typical posts are videos, photos and messages around his campaign platform. Much like the president, Romney’s Facebook page is a great resource of talking points.

Twitter: The Governor’s campaign does a great job of using the social network to communicate to Barack Obama’s Twitter feed. Tweets are sparse to his 545,000 followers, but they do include links to relevant articles and information about the governor’s policies and politics. The campaign team can do much more on the social network, and as the campaign season heats up, there will be plenty of opportunities.

YouTube: There are 8,700 subscribers to Governor Romney’s YouTube page. They have viewed 149 videos 8.5 million times. Videos range from ads (both positive and negative) to stump speeches, and interestingly, many videos in Spanish. The Romney brand knows that videos are important for delivering messages and it takes advantage of the medium by incorporating not only Romney-specific videos, but also videos of newscasts that highlight a Romney (or Republican) viewpoint.

This will be the first social election, and both campaigns are swinging for the fences on all platforms. Both understand the power of the social Web; from tweets about policy to Facebook updates about politics and videos aimed at key constituencies, each campaign is using social media to help its candidate’s brand. However, the governor has a long way to go to catch up to the president’s social and digital teams. To start, a copy editor is needed. There have been major spelling mistakes in the governor’s digital campaign so far: “Regan” and “Amercia” are two big gaffes. Granted, the president has a deeper war chest and a much larger bully pulpit than the challenger. But for now, we give the nod to the president. There are five months to go until the election and in that time, both campaigns will lean on social media to build their brands and deliver their messages to their electorates.

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