President Barack Obama managed to steal an impressive amount of Gov. Mitt Romney’s press coverage with a few, cheap social media tricks, including the most retweeted post of the convention. In comparison to the Republican National Convention’s all-out multi-million dollar conservative carnival, Obama made front page Google News with dramatically less effort and at no cost with three clever social media projects: answering questions from Reddit users for 30 minutes, tweeting “This seat’s taken” in response to Clint Eastwood’s silly stand-up routine (51K retweets), and releasing the White House beer recipe. Sure, Obama has the spotlight advantage because he’s the President, but it goes to show that all the money and staging in the world can’t compete with cleverness.
The Republican National Convention, by any measure, was a breakout social media success, with 4 million total tweets and 14,000 tweets per second for Romney’s big speech. There were more tweets by the Tuesday of the convention than occurred during the entire 2008 convention (even though ratings were higher in 2008 with Palin). And, as we’ll detail later, the Romney folks have an impressive digital media strategy.
But, team Obama managed to get an inordinate amount of traditional and online coverage with a few novelty social media actions. The first presidential “Ask Me Anything” on the popular news aggregate site, Reddit, racked up a whopping 5 million views for just 30 minutes of the President’s time.
Riding the wave of Clint Eastwood’s head-scratching conversation with an empty chair, Obama’s team dropped a pitch-perfect photo of him sitting in the commander-in-chief’s seat into the Twitterverse and watched the fireworks fly. The simple text + photo took the crown for the most retweeted post of the RNC.
To top it off, the White House assistant chef answered a much-anticipated call for the first official beer, which made the Google News front page.
You can make the case that social media and novelty news coverage don’t sway voters (and we have, extensively). Regardless, the lesson here is that social media experimentation and a pinch of wit are priceless.