Crowdwire looks at politics via lens of social media, branding

What's hotter on Twitter: the iPhone, McDonald's, or "Brand Obama"? New project The Crowdwire analyzes data to gauge the effectiveness of the political campaigns in social media.

Crowdwire looks at political and other brands on social media.

The screen grab above is from The Crowdwire, a new, noncommercial project that among other things looks at the success of the political campaigns in regard to branding and social media.

As you can see, in this snapshot for the period July 16 to August 15 the brand of President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, figure in the top three most-discussed brands on social media (I was surprised to see that the Batman movie came in only at fourth place considering the fact that the Colorado shootings took place July 20).

The Crowdwire (@TheCrowdwire on Twitter), a project of social-TV analytics company Bluefin Labs, set out to "decode the social signals of politics and culture." Here's an explanation of what the folks there found:

Using Bluefin's analytical tools, we pitted Brand Romney and Brand Obama against about 600 of the largest consumer brands. Though brands are just a part of the social discussion, they're a handy gauge of how the candidates are faring in the quest for attention.

So far in social media, they're doing very well. In the last month, Obama was the most talked-about brand, with 6.9 million public social comments. At No. 2 was the iPhone, with 6.1 million comments. And Mitt Romney was at No. 3, with 5.6 million comments, just above the new Batman movie (heavily discussed in part because of the Colorado massacre). And the former Massachusetts governor actually beat the iPhone for social "exposure," meaning that more influential people (as measured by follower counts) tended to talk about him.

As with anything to do with social media, there are a few caveats:

* The candidate who looms largest in the social sphere isn't necessarily winning the race. As a sitting president, Obama draws many comments unrelated to the election. Plus a hefty share of social commentary about presidential contenders is negative, and it often spikes when they've committed a gaffe, a phenomenon we'll explore in future posts.

* The social-media population is not a mirror of the electorate at large. Twitter is younger and more urban, for instance. (As today's users age and the tools are more widely adopted, such biases will likely decline.)

* Obama and Romney were the only public figures we tested and ranked against consumer brands. But there are a handful of other celebrities who would have been high on this list. Justin Bieber is currently more talked about on Twitter than both presidential candidates combined.

* We did not include the vice presidential candidates in this analysis because Paul Ryan joined the Romney ticket so recently. But as the election progresses, we'll be tracking both Ryan and Biden closely.

Crowdwire's director is William Powers, former Washington Post political reporter and author of the highly acclaimed New York Times bestseller "Hamlet's Blackberry."

This effort joins several others in trying to quantify social-media sentiment about the elections, and I'll be keeping a close eye on what The Crowdwire comes up with.

Note to readers: Please post your thoughts in the comments below or e-mail me or tweet me at@sree or #sreetips on Twitter. If you've been reading my posts here, you know that one of the things I am trying to do is learn what works and what doesn't on social media. It's such a fast-evolving, confusing world that I believe we can all learn together. Thanks for reading.

 

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