Hitwise Tracks Presidential Candidates’ Social Media Campaigns

Experian Hitwise has taken a look at the online trends surrounding the presidential candidates’ social media campaigns efforts. Needless to say, the race to the White House is heating up online.

Here are some of the highlights:

Romney, Gingrich & Social Media

Both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich announced their official bids for the White House on Twitter and YouTube. Visits to Romney’s Facebook page are on the rise, growing 44 percent from the week ending May 7 to the week ending May 14.  

A Gallup poll out this week puts Romney and Sarah Palin (who maintains a big presence on Twitter and Facebook) at the head of the Republican presidential pack – although the field still appears to lack a clear frontrunner.

Online Fundraising

Ron Paul raised more than $1 million in 24 hours online through his political action committee. Meanwhile, Tim Pawlenty tried to keep fundraising expectations in check for his upcoming Republican presidential campaign, saying he simply needs enough money to run a “Buick”-type campaign.

Obama & Palin Leading on Facebook

President Obama recently hosted an online town hall about the economy on Facebook. Obama and Palin’s Facebook pages are the most visited among all the current candidates.

Trump Searches, Facebook Visits Drop

Late last week, Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump officially pulled out of the race on the Republican side. Tracking Facebook data, Hitwise noted that total visits to Trump’s Facebook page were already falling before he exited on May 16 – visits had declined 49 percent for the week ending May 14, 2011 when compared to the previous week.

Meanwhile, Michele Bachmann said she’s close to deciding whether to jump into the 2012 presidential race, and she suggested that Huckabee’s and Trump’s exits from the field make it more likely she’ll get in. 

Many suspected Trump of running for president as a ratings stunt for the 11th season of “The Apprentice,” and it seems his act ran out of steam after Obama released his birth certificate, followed closely by the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Searches for variations of “Trump” peaked during the week ending May 7, at which point there were 65 times more searches for “Trump” than during the peak in season 10 of “The Apprentice” (October 9, 2010). But by the end of the week ending May 14, searches for all variations of “Trump” dropped 68 percent compared to the previous week. You can’t make this stuff up. 

Using Social Media to Engage Voters

According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 54 percent of all U.S. adults went online to get news or information about the 2010 midterm elections, or to get involved in the campaign in one way or another. Hitwise expects candidates to use social media and the web heavily to engage voters and get out their messages. 

Hitwise has also launched a political dashboard with other political trend data that you can view and will be adding more data to this page going forward.  

YouTube Town Hall

YouTube Town Hall

At the same time, Will Houghteling, YouTube News and Politics, just announced YouTube Town Hall.  

“YouTube Town Hall is an online platform for members of Congress to virtually debate and discuss the most important issues of the day,” Houghteling wrote on the Official YouTube Blog. “You can select an issue, watch two short videos of members of congress expressing different perspectives on how to tackle this issue, and then support the one you agree with most. The most supported videos will be tracked on the YouTube Town Hall Leaderboard. After you watch the video, you’ll find out which party the representative comes from – and sometimes you might be surprised.”

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