The 2012 U.S. presidential election isn't the nation's first social media election. This time around, though, the contest is shaping up to be a newsfeeding frenzy.
There are lots of ways to participate in the upcoming election online, but social media provides more opportunities than ever. Four years ago, slightly more than 20 percent of U.S. citizens used social networks. That number has snowballed to 50. Since 2008, Facebook membership has increased nearly 10 times, Twitter membership by a factor of five. Barak Obama’s list of friends and followers has ballooned by an order of magnitude. Similarly, Mitt Romney has more than 10 times as many as John McCain did last time around (though still only about a pitiable quarter of the incumbent's social-network following).
How are the candidates taking advantage of all their newfound connections? Not so well.
At first glance, the president appears to be on the ball: He tweets 29 times a day to his challenger's one. That said, Barry's tweets are boilerplate newsbites reported in the third person, clearly written by a harried flack. Mittens', on the other hand, are somewhat personal statements in his own somewhat combative voice. (I know which candidate I'd subscribe to, if I were in a subscribing mood - never mind which one I support.)
For more perspective on how social media is shaping Election 2012, check out this fascinating infographic from marketing firm Vertical Measures.