A Love-Hate Relationship: Social Media’s Use in the 2012 Presidential Campaign

The 2012 presidential election proved to be a social media milestone. Twitter specifically was hit with millions of tweets regarding the big day. A timeline of Election Day tweets shows the magnitude of people using social media to express their thoughts about the election.

  • 7:45 p.m. ET – Twitter reported there were more than 11 million #Election2012 tweets
  • 8:30 p.m. ET – Twitter had hit a new peak: 65,000 tweets per minute bringing up the total count of tweets to 13 million
  • 9:26 p.m. ET – Twitter hits another new peak at 66,019 tweets per minute when the Pennsylvania results were announced
  • 10:16 p.m. ET – Twitter hit 20 million election-related tweets, making it the most tweeted-about event in U.S. political history
  • 11:16 p.m. ET – Barack Obama broke the news via a tweet: “Four More Years” which by 11:25 p.m. had 128,469 retweets


Not only did citizens of the world use Twitter to talk about the election, but the two most important people of the day also used the tool. Obama definitely held the upper hand when it came to social media. Romney’s efforts paled in comparison.

Here’s a brief comparison of the two candidate’s social media efforts:




31 million likes

11 million likes


24 million followers

1.7 million followers


70,000 notes per post

400 notes per post

Source: newmediarockstars.com

Laura Olin and her social media team were behind President Obama’s, First Lady Michelle Obama’s and Vice President Biden’s Facebooks, Twitters, Tumblers, Spotifys and Instagrams. During the election, 60% of the voters between the ages of 18-29 voted for Obama (newmediarockstars.com). Is it safe to say that these voters were influenced by the Obama campaign’s social media presence? I believe it is.

Are there negatives associated with the implementation of social media strategies during an election? Possibly.

Although social media had a seemingly huge impact on the 18-29 demographic, older citizens may not take advantage of the platform. For all of the time and energy that goes into Tweets and Facebook posts, a large majority of the country won’t even see the outcomes. I think it is important that the campaign managers stay equally as focused on other media coverage.

Also, if social media accounts are not monitored closely, they may as well not exist. People like Laura Olin and her team have to be on top of things at all times. If a mistake is made in a Tweet or post, millions of people can find out in minutes.

Overall, I think that social media had an overwhelmingly positive impact on the presidential campaigns, at least for Obama. This election should prove to future candidates running for office that social media is not a platform to be ignored.

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