Tales from the Trail

“Talking about” Obama and Romney on Facebook

When President Obama marked the one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death earlier this week by unexpectedly addressing the nation from Afghanistan, several commentators cited it as an example of the ”advantage of incumbency”: the president’s visibility and ability to dominate the news are greater, just by virtue of being president, than those of challenger Mitt Romney, and he should be expected to benefit from the groundwork his campaign laid during the 2008 campaign, particularly its vast network of supporters, donors, and social media connections. 

Indeed, across a number of social media platforms, Obama’s following dwarfs Romney’s: Obama has 26 million Facebook ”Likes” to Romney’s 1.7 million; while Obama has nearly 15 million Twitter followers, Romney hasn’t yet hit half a million; on Google+, Obama has just over a 1 million users in his circles, compared to Romney’s just over 500 thousand; on Instagram, Obama has 636,790 followers to Romney’s 9,695. In absolute numbers, Obama seems to own a towering advantage over Romney.

But on Facebook at least, sheer number of “Likes” may not tell the whole story, or even the most important part of it. Last fall, Facebook launched ”people talking about this,” a metric that counts interactions with a Page — things like “liking” a Page, commenting on a post, or sharing a photo from a Page — over a seven-day period to measure user engagement.

Here, too, Obama leads Romney in absolute numbers, with a “talking about” total more than twice as high as Romney’s – 283,819 versus 126,990. Yet, as a percentage of overall “Likes,” engagement over the past week is much higher for Romney, at 7.6 percent, than for Obama, at 1.08 percent. 

For comparison’s sake, the activity of Romney’s Facebook followers appears to surpass those of Ron Paul, known for his passionate internet following: of Ron Paul’s 949,319 “Likes,” 24,943 — 2.6 percent — are ” talking about” his Page. And the percentage of Newt Gingrich’s fans who are engaging with his Facebook Page this week – 4,887 out of 295,289, or 1.65 percent — falls short of Romney’s — though it is still higher than Obama’s.

Washington Extra – Tweet tweet

President Barack Obama’s Twitter Townhall would have been more interesting if he had answered tweet for tweet.

Instead it looked a lot like an old-fashioned interview except the questions came over the transom on Twitter.

Of the tens of thousands of questions posed at #AskObama the ones chosen allowed the president to chew over long-standing talking points but offered little new insight. It might have been worth asking at least one fun question off the well-trodden policy path.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Breyer on Twitter

The U.S. Supreme Court does not have an official Twitter account, but this just in — Justice Stephen Breyer is on Twitter and Facebook. But he is not revealing details of arguments or rulings.

USA-COURT/He told a congressional hearing on the Supreme Court’s budget that he has a Twitter account because of his interest in the protests in Iran after the 2009 presidential election. Twitter represented one of the best ways of learning what was happening in that country.

Since then, Breyer said he has received requests to follow him on Twitter, but has turned them down. The same applies to Facebook.

from Summit Notebook:

So how plugged in is the SEC chair? (technologically speaking)

Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Schapiro says her agency has its work cut out to compete with the massive amounts of money that private firms, policed by the SEC, pour into the latest technology.

"Can we keep up with Wall Street? I think we have a fighting chance. We'll never have, under any circumstances, the kind of budgets that would allow us to spend a billion dollars a year on technology as some firms do, I mean that's just not going to happen, and I totally understand that," she said at the Reuters Future Face of Finance Summit. FINANCE-SUMMIT/SCHAPIRO

"If we can build a forensics lab for our enforcement people to be able to download data off of iPhones and iPads and other instruments, then we will be a lot better able to pursue insider trading potentially and other securities law violations," she said.

Tweet like an Egyptian — Hillary Clinton tries it out

AFGHANISTAN-USA/

Young Egyptians, who famously used Internet services like Facebook and Twitter to launch their recent revolution, turned their focus to Hillary Clinton on Wednesday. They peppered the top U.S. diplomat with skeptical questions about longtime U.S. support for former  President Hosni Mubarak and what many felt was its slow embrace of the movement to topple him.

Clinton, taking a personal spin at what she has called “21st Century Statecraft”, fielded a selection of some 6,500 questions that young Egyptians posed through Twitter,  Facebook and the Arabic-language website www.masrawy.com — and many reflected deep suspicions about the U.S. role in Egypt.

“My question is: Does America really support democracy? If yes indeed, why the U.S. was late in its support of the Egyptian revolution?” one questioner asked Clinton.

U.S. State Dept. figures out how to say “Twitter” in Arabic

It took a while, but the U.S. State Department is now tweeting in Arabic.

EGYPT/With unprecedented political turmoil rocking Egypt and protesters turning to social media such as Twitter and Facebook, the mouthpiece of U.S. foreign policy wants in on the game.

Its first message? #Egypt #Jan25 تعترف وزارة الخارجية الأمريكية بالدور التاريخي الذي يلعبه الإعلام الإجتماعي في العالم العربي ونرغب أن نكون جزءاً من محادثاتكم

(Translation: “We want to be a part of your conversation!”)

The new State Department Arabic Twitter feed, @USAbilaraby, joins a growing chorus of Twitter feeds describing and commenting on events in Egypt and across the Arab world, where social media is helping to broadcast political ferment.

Senator Dodd undone – tweeted and deleted

The hazards of the Twitter age became quite apparent for one senator today.

“U love torturing me w this shit” was tweeted on Senator Christopher Dodd’s Twitter account @SenChrisDodd. USA/

Then came the tweet ”From Dodd Staff – Apologies to Dodd’s followers, last tweet was not from Chris Dodd.”

The first tweet has vanished into twitterair with a little help from the delete button, but some followers who were on their toes took screenshots.

Happy Birthday, Mr President? Palin takes on State Dept in Twitterburst

palin

Sarah Palin has a beef — and a tweet or two — for the U.S.  State Department.

Palin tweeted her outrage following a tongue-in-cheek tweet from State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley that wished Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a happy birthday.

Crowley, who regularly tweets as @PJCrowley to about 6,250 followers, marked the Iranian leader’s birthday on Thursday with a plea for the release of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, two American hikers who have been detained in Iran for more than a year and face trial on suspicion of espionage.

Twitter opinion analysis shows even split between parties

Social media hasn’t been around long enough for pundits to determine how accurately it reflects the mood of a nation, but Democrats grasping for positive news might take hope from a shift in the tone on Twitter.

Our analysis of some 1.6 million tweets since August, using sentiment analysis software from market research firm Crimson Hexagon, shows a more favorable trend for President Obama’s party in recent weeks.

When we first examined online sentiment back in the summer, we found considerably less enthusiasm among Twitter users for the Democrats than for the Republicans.

Twitter opinion analysis shows change in sentiment following ‘Tea Party Tuesday’

Our analysis of political opinions expressed by Twitter users shows that the ‘enthusiasm gap’ that previously favored the GOP over the Democratic Party seems to have evened out recently.

Our last analysis of the Twitter sentiment data provided by market research firm Crimson Hexagon indicated that while there were similar numbers of tweets criticizing both political parties, there were many more pro-GOP tweets posted on the social networking service than pro-Democratic ones – a result in line with what some saw as a lack of enthusiasm among Democratic voters as the midterms approached.

Since that analysis there have been two changes in the trends we’ve been seeing. The first was a divergence in the “anti” numbers with anti-Democratic sentiment far outweighing anti-GOP. This trend was most pronounced in late August – a period that coincided with the controversy surrounding the planned cultural center and mosque near the Ground Zero site in downtown Manhattan.