Garnering votes, whether for the White House or the President's latest initiative, once meant a lot more legwork than it does today. Crisscrossing the country to meet with constituents, hosting town hall meetings, shaking hands, and kissing babies have all been and remain a part of presidential elections and the presidency.
Today, however, the President has a much easier time getting his message directly to the people, in many cases without having it first filtered through the media. Social media is a fast, direct way to communicate with citizens, and if President Barack Obama's first election bid is any indication, it will have a huge impact on how the 2012 presidential election is run.
With former President George W. Bush only setting up his own Facebook and Twitter accounts last summer, which garnered a swarm of media publicity, President Obama has already been dubbed The First Social Media President by The Los Angeles Times, among others.
In fact, many in the media have attributed President Obama's successful run for president to his ability to use social media to garner votes and to get people excited about and involved in politics again. He did it far more successfully than his opponent John McCain, and the statistics prove that, according to Richter 10.2 Media Group.
The PR firm found that, in 2009, President Obama had 2,379,102 fans on Facebook (that number now stands at more than 19 million); 112, 474 Twitter followers; and 833,161 MySpace Friends while John McCain had 217,811 Facebook fans; 4,603 Twitter followers, and 217,811 MySpace friends. (To check out more social media stats from the 2009 presidential campaign, click here.)
President Obama, who made worldwide headlines for being the first president to take his BlackBerry to the White House, also used social media to create a database of his supporters, according to The New York Times. Supporters signed up for updates on his official website (www.BarackObama.com) and requested tickets to campaign rallies and events, all which required an email address. That database of email addresses now makes it easy for President Obama to gain instant access to his supporters, whether he wants to garner support for his latest initiative, for his 2012 run, or to raise funds.
New supporters who visit his website are immediately asked "Are you in?" If you are behind President Obama in the 2012 campaign, type in your email address, click the "I'm in" button, and you'll be kept up-to-date with campaign news. Supporters can also join in by clicking on a Facebook icon.
Since he announced his bid for reelection through both Facebook and YouTube, President Obama has already scheduled a town hall meeting, focused on the economy, on Facebook for April 20.
But, President Obama isn't the only one plugged in to social media for the upcoming Presidential campaign. Immediately after President Obama announced his run for a second term, Minnesota's former republican governor and potential presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty released a video on YouTube and on Facebook in response.
Former Alaska Governor and potential presidential candidate Sarah Palin has used Facebook to her advantage, though she only touts two million fans compared to President Obama's 19 million fans.
President Obama has used social media to his success and, if his opponents want to keep up, they'll have to be more active in social media during the 2012 presidential campaign.
To keep up with President Obama on social media, check out:
- President Obama on Twitter
- President Obama on Facebook
- President Obama on LinkedIn
- President Obama on My Space