The Silent Majority

The buzz after last night’s debate anchored by Brian Williams seems to focus mistakenly on the squabble that is happening between Mitt Romney & New Gingrich.  While this makes great television and allows the broadcast networks to sell advertising time around this programming; the real battle is happening on a media landscape that should be front and center on the road to the White House; Social Media and the Internet. Far from the maddening claims and counter claims being made around tax returns, influence peddling and the Straits of Hormuz; a battle wages for the hearts and minds of the silent majority. The voters who now spend a significant amount of their time on the Internet; gathering information, purchasing products , building communities of shared concern and interest and demonstrating their interest and affinity to political candidates. NO where have I seen ANY focus from any of the competing media outlets on the tidal wave of change that is evidenced thru an data that is publicly accessible via the web.

It appears that the republican candidates and their marketing teams have missed a HUGE opportunity to build their brands by leveraging effectively social media. All of this unforgivable after Candidate Obama and his campaign team gave a clinic on how to build a strong and influential base of social media friends and followers that converted into  campaign supporters (raising over half a billion dollars) and voters on election day. I am puzzled when I hear several of the remaining republican candidate brands espouse on television that they are capturing the hearts and minds of “young voters”. Sorry folks…the data isn’t proving this out.  The story is pretty clear here on the Internet. Any idea that the communities  who spend time on the Internet in venues like Linked In, Face book and/or Twitter do not represent mainstream America defies logic and fact. There is no longer any debate on that point. Brands that are truly interested in winning in November had better stop running millions of dollars of TV commercials…and get focused on winning the battle for the silent majority within their online communities.

Let’s take a look at what’s happening with  Facebook  “Likes “in the last week…

Mitt Romney  – 1,375282 – UP 32,556
Ron Paul – 786,293 – UP – 42,573
Newt Gingrich – 248,217 – UP 18,090
Rick Santorum – 86,405 – UP 7650
President Barack Obama – 24,706,073 – UP 167,294

A number of interesting developments across the republican candidate’s social media strategy this week. Mitt Romney is featuring a video of  NJ Governor Chris Christie’s endorsement prominently above the fold on his Facebook page; “donate button” only visible when you scroll down. Ron Paul and Rick Santorum devote much of their pages to “facebook comments”.  Santorum focused on his platform from last night’s debate focused on immigration “ If you want to be an American…respect our laws” . Ron Paul seems to be as agitated as his son Senator Rand Paul about his refusal to go thru a full body scan at an TSA airport checkpoint and the fact that the Senator missed his flight and a speaking engagement as a result. No confusion regarding Newt Gingrich’s focus. Prominent message top of fold with “boxing gloves” motif… “Help raise $2 Million dollars for a knockout punch money bomb in Florida.  Pretty clear that Speaker Gingrich is focused on raising money as his #1 goal. Not sure the use of words like “money bomb” are appropriate right now with what is going on in our world.

Suffice to say….as you look at these Facebook numbers, Newt and others would probably be much better served if they spent a little time and/or money focused in a place where they are losing quite badly.  Ron Paul leads the pack in Facebook friends growth week over week.  Mitt Romney continues to grow his base strongly despite all of the broadcast debate flak.  The Santorum campaign looks lost on the web and while the candidate continues to grow…his base is way too small to be meaningful as we head toward November. All of the television exposure has done little to boost his numbers to a place of contention. In aggregate…President Obama continues to pummel the field in his ability to grow his base online. Up over 167,000 facebook friends in the last week….he is running nearly 70% ahead of the aggregate of all republican candidates combined !!

Twitter Followers  – In the last week

Newt Gingrich – 1,419,586 – UP 24,413
Ron Paul – 331,451 – UP 24,308
Mitt Romney – 288,052 – UP 19,730
Rick Santorum – 92,242 – UP 7595
President Barack Obama  – 12,104,540 – UP 118,282
First Lady Michelle Obama – 471,765 – UP 77,731

Newt Gingrich seems to have recaptured a group of followers that he lost in early January this past week.  His current group of followers is about 5000 higher than his previous high.  Mitt Romney is showing a consistent growth pattern in the last several weeks; up nearly 35% in followers since early January.  Ron Paul has also bounced back strongly this week picking up some of his lost followers.  The news here for the Santorum campaign is equally distressing.  A focus on building out the social media strategy should have been a priority for the candidate. His numbers here demonstrate a real gap in thinking from a marketing perspective.  The President and First Lady are crushing it on Twitter. Just in the last week, the First couple has nearly 200,000 new folks following their every move and thought. In fact First Lady Michelle Obama today ranks second behind Newt Gingrich in terms her relative standing.

A good colleague of mine gave me a great anecdote when we came across marketers who seemed to be in denial regarding data and the urgency of making change. He said…”these folks know that they have a problem with their engine; they hear that knocking sound that denotes a problem. Their solution is to the problem is to turn up the volume of the radio so they don’t hear the knock.”  Reports from the field  document that the Silent Majority is speaking loud and clear.  The choice for those on the road to the White House is pretty simple…either turn up the volume or look under the hood.

Until Next Week.

Al D

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