The Universe Problem: Poll results, Facebook and the 2012 Presidential campaign
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The Universe Problem: Poll results, Facebook and the 2012 Presidential campaign

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This is the first Presidential election where social media reflects and affects the outcome for both sides. ...

This is the first Presidential election where social media reflects and affects the outcome for both sides.

Political candidates have brands, just like companies do. They’re influenced by many of the same market forces, and social media is one of those forces.

The team at Portent put together this evaluation of the Romney and Obama presidential campaigns based on Facebook data collected since April 2012.

Our analysis shows problems for both sides: A universe problem for Gov. Romney, and an agility problem for Pres. Obama.

Note: We will update this report as the election progresses. Please subscribe to our blog at http://www.portent.com/blog if you'd like to keep track.

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  • 1. THE UNIVERSE PROBLEMPoll results, Facebook, and the 2012 Presidential campaign Ian Lurie, CEO, Portent www.portent.com @portentint ian@portent.com
  • 2. OverviewThis is the first Presidential election where social media reflectsand affects the outcome for both sides.Political candidates have brands, just like companies do. They’reinfluenced by many of the same market forces, and social mediais one of those forces.The team at Portent put together this evaluation of the Romneyand Obama presidential campaigns based on Facebook datacollected since April 2012.Our analysis shows problems for both sides: A universe problemfor Gov. Romney, and an agility problem for Pres. Obama.
  • 3. Data sourcesWe collected our data from:-  Facebook’s Open Graph API. We collected daily follower counts, plus up to 200 post datapoints per candidate. We could not collect 100% of posts, likes and shares for each candidate due to Facebook API limitations.-  Gallup polling data.-  The Huffington Post ‘poll of polls’.
  • 4. Facebook follower growthIf you compare Facebook follower growth, it looks like Romneyis racing ahead. His best growth rate in Facebook followers wasnearly 4%, in early August 2012.President Obama never exceeds 0.181%.In August, Romney grew his Facebook audience more than 20times faster. 2012  high  Facebook  follower  growth  rate   3.67%   0.181%   President  Obama   Governor  Romney  
  • 5. Facebook follower growthBut, President Obama now has more than 29 million Facebookfollowers. That’s more people than live in the state of Texas, bythe way.Gov. Romney now has over 8 million. But that left him with ahuge gap. Unless he sustains a high growth rate, he can’t hopeto compete with President Obama online. Every time theObama campaign posts to Facebook, it taps an audience 3.5times larger: President Obama’s Facebook audience Governor Romney’s Facebook audience
  • 6. Romney’s universe problemMore important, Governor Romney can’t sustain momentum.After the Republican national convention, his follower growthrate plunges below his pre-convention 30-day average: Governor Romneys Facebook growth rate: Rolling avg 4.000% 3.500% 3.000% 2.500% 2.000% Average pre-convention growth rate 1.500% 1.000% 0.500% Republican National Convention: 0.000%
  • 7. Romney’s universe problemPresident Obama, on the other hand, has been able to buildstrong, sustained emotional momentum, especially following theDemocratic national convention. President Obamas Facebook growth rate: Rolling avg0.200%0.180%0.160%0.140%0.120%0.100%0.080% Pre-convention growth rate0.060%0.040%0.020% Democratic National Convention:0.000%
  • 8. Romney’s universe problemIn marketing, a brand has a universe problem if it can no longerexpand its audience.Universe problems occur because the potential audience issimply too small. They also occur because a brand simply can’texpand. If a company has no appeal for new audiences andcan’t generate that appeal, it stops growing.The Romney campaign has a universe problem. Our researchshows that Gov. Romney gets a fantastic response from hisexisting facebook audience, but can’t expand beyond it. That’s agood hint as to why he’s falling behind in battleground states:He needs to sway 3-5% of voters who are on the margins of hiscurrent brand universe, but hasn’t yet.
  • 9. Obama’s agility problemThe Obama campaign faces a different challenge: With theirgigantic following (did I mention – more fans than thepopulation of Texas?) they’re a big, successful brand.Like any big brand, President Obama has a lot to lose from evena small gaffe. So he’s playing things conservatively, nevermaking the big statements/moves that might separate him fromGov. Romney and put the election away.That’s often smart for a big brand, but it hurts their ability tomaintain strong, rapid growth.
  • 10. So what?Ho hum. More social media data from a so-called “expert.” Moreblathering about user engagement and followers. The race isnear a statistical tie. Does this data even matter?Yes, because this social media data helps clarify the polls.
  • 11. So what?The Gallup poll and the 480-poll aggregate assembled byThe Huffington Post show the Romney campaign losing ground.The longer the Romney campaign fails to broaden their branduniverse, the harder it becomes to close the gap.
  • 12. So what?The Obama campaign, on the other hand, is too conservative,letting the Gov. Romney back into the race time and again. Ifthis were football, they’d be playing the prevent defense. Andwe all know how well that works.
  • 13. So what? Gallup Poll results, 4/15/12 – 10/3/12 49 47Obama 45 43 41 39 49 47Romney 45 43 41 39
  • 14. So what? Huffington Post ‘poll of polls’, 4/12/12 – 10/3/12
  • 15. What can they do?Both campaigns need to understand that this is marketing: Theircandidates have brands. They need to make the moves thatstrengthen those brands, and social media – particularlyFacebook – is a major part of that now.They both need to do the same thing: They need to go on theoffensive, talking about what’s good about them, instead ofwhat’s bad about the other guy.Negative posts generate a feeble response. Positive posts abouttheir own strengths and beliefs generate 3-4x more shares. Bebold about what they’re saying, and how they’re saying it.
  • 16. WE WILL UPDATE THIS REPORT AS THE ELECTIONPROGRESSES. PLEASE SUBSCRIBE TO OUR BLOG IFYOU’D LIKE TO HEAR ABOUT EACH UPDATE.
  • 17. Q u e s t i o n s? ian@portent.com @portentinthttp://plus.google.com/+IanLurie www.portent.com