Chris Snider teaches digital media in Des Moines, Iowa

Web Design & Social Media

Posted in: Digital information

Can social media predict the 2012 GOP Presidential nominee?

Can social media predict the 2012 GOP presidential nominee? That’s the question I asked for a recent panel presentation to the National Communication Association at its annual convention in New Orleans.

I proposed that the more popular a candidate is on social media, and the more a candidate is able to engage others on social media, the more successful the candidate will be in caucuses, primaries and the election.

To test this, I looked at 17 different measures of social media success – both in terms of popularity (the amount of reach for each candidate) and engagement (how well candidates used the tools). The results mirrored recent national polls, meaning there may be some value to this data.

Here’s a look at how the candidates rank in each area (all data was from Nov. 13, 2011).

1. Total followers on Twitter

It’s worth noting that Gingrich had 1.3 million followers as far back as March, so his huge following is not necessarily tied to the election.

Candidates Followers
1. Newt Gingrich 1,346,342
2. Herman Cain 164,339
3. Mitt Romney 161,669
4. Michele Bachmann 112,198
5. Rick Perry 103,649
6. Ron Paul 76,545
7. Jon Huntsman 48,858
8. Rick Santorum 37,878

2. New Twitter followers in the past 30 days

Candidates New Followers
1. Herman Cain 47,434
2. Mitt Romney 27,720
3. Newt Gingrich 11,835
4. Michele Bachmann 8,184
5. Jon Huntsman 7,729
6. Rick Perry 7,291
7. Rick Santorum 5,920
8. Ron Paul 5,905

3. Facebook Likes

The top three candidates here all started with a solid base. Romney had 800,000-plus as far back as March.

Candidates Likes
1. Mitt Romney 1,175,188
2. Ron Paul 582,857
3. Michele Bachmann 459,152
4. Herman Cain 371,532
5. Rick Perry 170,911
6. Newt Gingrich 168,031
7. Rick Santorum 31,955
8. Jon Huntsman 22,814

4. New Facebook Likes in past 30 days

Candidates New Likes
1. Herman Cain 99,320
2. Mitt Romney 43,229
3. Ron Paul 39,321
4. Newt Gingrich 15,617
5. Rick Perry 3,844
6. Jon Huntsman 2,569
7. Rick Santorum 1,843
8. Michele Bachmann -1,077

5. Twitter lists

How often each candidate has been added to a list on Twitter. This is an indication that followers find value in their content.

Candidates Listed
1. Newt Gingrich 10,125
2. Michele Bachmann 4,964
3. Mitt Romney 4,182
4. Herman Cain 3,784
5. Rick Perry 3,499
6. Ron Paul 3,330
7. Rick Santorum 1,498
8. Jon Huntsman 1,219

6. Twitter Lists/Followers

The frequency with which followers add candidates to Twitter lists. For example, Bachmann is added to a list once for every 22.6 followers that she has. The lower the number the better; a high number may be an indication you are followed by accounts that aren’t really engaged with your content.

Candidates Followers/Lists
1. Michele Bachman 22.6
2. Ron Paul 23.0
3. Rick Santorum 25.3
4. Rick Perry 29.6
5. Mitt Romney 38.7
6. Jon Huntsman 40.1
7. Herman Cain 43.4
8. Newt Gingrich 133

7. Number of last 20 Tweets with @

This shows that the candidates are actually being “social” on Twitter and not just pushing their message.

Candidates Tweets
1. Michele Bachmann 12
1. Newt Gingrich 12
3. Jon Huntsman 11
4. Rick Santorum 10
5. Mitt Romney 7
6. Rick Perry 6
7. Herman Cain 5
8. Ron Paul 0

8. Klout score

Klout measures influence online on a scale of 1 to 100.

Candidates Score
1. Herman Cain 82
2. Rick Perry 77
3. Mitt Romney 76
4. Jon Huntsman 71
5. Newt Gingrich 70
6. Michele Bachmann 67
7. Rick Santorum 65
8. Ron Paul 61

9. Tweetgrader Rank

Tweetgrader measures the “power, reach and authority of a Twitter account.”

Candidates Rank
1. Newt Gingrich 20,303
2. Herman Cain 36,321
3. Rick Perry 48,240
4. Rick Santorum 51,252
5. Michele Bachmann 61,184
6. Mitt Romney 67,228
7. Ron Paul 84,200
8. Jon Huntsman 108,558

10. Tweetlevel Score

Tweetlevel.edelman.com – Measures your influence on Twitter.

Candidates Score
1. Newt Gingrich 82.8
2. Herman Cain 79.7
3. Michele Bachmann 70.1
4. Rick Perry 69
5. Rick Santorum 64.5
6. Mitt Romney 62.2
7. Ron Paul 55.2
8. Jon Huntsman N/A

11. Retweetrank.com Rank

Measures how likely your tweets are to be retweeted, an indication that people value what you say.

Candidates Rank
1. Herman Cain 13,746
2. Newt Gingrich 30,312
3. Mitt Romney 43,367
3. Rick Santorum 43,367
5. Rick Perry 68,823
6. Ron Paul 108,000
7. Jon Huntsman 108,674
8. Michele Bachmann 109,402

12. Shares on Last 12 FB Posts

The number of people who clicked “share” on each candidates’ last 12 posts to Facebook.

Candidates Shares
1. Herman Cain 2,882
2. Newt Gingrich 2,189
3. Michele Bachmann 1,960
4. Ron Paul 1,884
5. Rick Perry 1,286
6. Mitt Romney 891
7. Jon Huntsman 262
8. Rick Santorum 113

13. Likes on Last 12 FB Posts

The number of people who clicked “Like” on each candidates’ last 12 posts to Facebook.

Candidates Likes
1. Herman Cain 56,384
2. Mitt Romney 32,756
3. Michele Bachmann 20,208
4. Ron Paul 17,678
5. Newt Gingrich 12,781
6. Rick Perry 10,802
7. Jon Huntsman 1,667
8. Rick Santorum 17,678

14. Comments on Last 12 FB Posts

The number of people who commented on each candidates’ last 12 posts to Facebook.

Candidates Comments
1. Rick Perry 13,126
2. Herman Cain 7,419
3. Mitt Romney 6,980
4. Michele Bachmann 5,365
5. Ron Paul 3,746
6. Newt Gingrich 2,143
7. Jon Huntsman 383
8. Rick Santorum 129

15. Facebook “Talking About This”

Number of people who have interacted with candidate’s page in the past seven days.

Candidates Talking
1. Herman Cain 85,554
2. Mitt Romney 52,378
3. Ron Paul 49,935
4. Newt Gingrich 20,560
5. Michele Bachmann 18,426
6. Rick Perry 7,871
7. Rick Santorum 3,875
8. Jon Huntsman 2,593

16. Mentions on Twitter Past 7 Days

Source: Topsy.com (Searching a candidate’s Twitter username and real Name)

Candidates Mentions
1. Herman Cain 138,000
2. Rick Perry 92,000
3. Ron Paul 40,000
4. Mitt Romney 26,000
5. Newt Gingrich 17,000
6. Michele Bachmann 9,059
7. Jon Huntsman 3,976
8. Rick Santorum 3,095

17. Socialmention.com strength

Strength is the likelihood that your brand is being discussed in social media.

Candidates Strength
1. Herman Cain 36%
2. Ron Paul 33%
3. Rick Perry 31%
4. Mitt Romney 27%
4. Newt Gingrich 27%
6. Michele Bachmann 26%
7. Jon Huntsman 20%
8. Rick Santorum 19%

Overall results

Each candidate is assigned a value from 1 to 8 based on how they ranked for each area I tracked. The lower the candidate’s average score, the higher they are regarded in social media circles. You can see that Herman Cain is leading the pack with an average rating of 2.29. Newt Gingrich (3.47) and Mitt Romney (3.53) are second and third.

HC NG MR MB RPe RPa RS JH
Twitter Followers 2 1 3 4 5 6 8 7
Twitter Followers last month 1 3 2 4 6 8 7 5
Facebook Likes 4 6 1 3 5 2 7 8
Facebook Likes last month 1 4 2 8 5 3 7 6
Twitter Lists 4 1 3 2 5 6 7 8
Twitter Followers/List 7 8 5 1 4 2 3 6
Tweets with @ in them 7 1 5 1 6 8 4 3
Klout Score 1 5 3 6 2 8 7 4
Tweetgrader Rank 2 1 6 5 3 7 4 8
Tweetlevel Score 2 1 6 3 4 7 5 8
Tweetrank Rank 1 2 3 8 5 6 3 7
Shares of last 20 FB Posts 1 2 6 3 5 4 8 7
Comments of last 20 FB Posts 2 6 3 4 1 5 8 7
Likes of last 20 FB Posts 1 5 2 3 6 4 8 7
Facebook Page “Talking About This” 1 4 2 5 6 3 7 8
Topsy.com mentions last 7 days 1 5 4 6 2 3 8 7
SocialMention Strength 1 4 4 6 3 2 8 7
Average ranking 2.29 3.47 3.53 4.24 4.29 4.94 6.41 6.65

Engagement results

Below is what the results look like when I only look at engagement and not popularity. Rick Perry jumps up two spots in these results. So while he doesn’t have as large of a following as others (he ranks fifth on both Twitter and Facebook), he is engaging well with that audience.

Candidate Average Rank
1. Herman Cain 1.3
2. Newt Gingrich 3.5
3. Rick Perry 3.7
4. Mitt Romney 3.9
5. Michele Bachmann 4.9
6. Ron Paul 4.9
7. Rick Santorum 6.6
8. Jon Huntsman 7

Comparing to national polls

I decided to compare my results to two national polls released at the same time (Nov. 14) – one from CNN and one from Public Policy Polling. Those two polls had Gingrich, Cain and Romney in the lead. My results had the same three in the lead (although Perry did jump into third place when only looking at engagement).

Social Media Avg. Engagement Avg. CNN/ORC   Pub Policy  
1. Cain 2.29 1. Cain 1.3 1. Romney 24% 1. Gingrich 28%
2. Gingrich 3.47 2. Gingrich 3.5 2. Gingrich 22% 2. Cain 25%
3. Romney 3.53 3. Perry 3.7 3. Cain 14% 3. Romney 18%
4. Bachman 4.24 4. Romney 3.9 4. Perry 12% 4. Perry 6%
5. Perry 4.29 5. Bachmann 4.9 5. Paul 8% 5. Bachmann 5%
6. Paul 4.94 6. Paul 4.9 6. Bachmann 6% 6. Paul 5%
7. Santorum 6.41 7. Santorum 6.6 7. Huntsman 3% 7. Huntsman 3%
8. Huntsman 6.65 8. Huntsman 7 8. Santorum 3% 8. Santorum 1%

Discussion

Early results indicate that measuring social media popularity and engagement is a good indication of how a candidate is performing nationally. I plan to look at these numbers again in early December and on the date (Jan. 3) of the Iowa Caucuses.

If we see a change in the national polls reflected in the social media numbers, that may help validate my research.

It’s also hard to say at this point whether a candidate’s success in social media propels them to success in the polls, or whether a candidate’s success in the polls propels them to social media success (the chicken and the egg debate). But clearly social media is an area that no candidate can afford to ignore.

2 comments

  1. Pingback: e.politics: online advocacy tools & tactics » Quick Hits — November 29, 2011

  2. Pingback: Four weeks before Iowa Caucuses, how the candidates are doing on social media | Chris Snider

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