Barack Obama’s digital team has gotten credit for being more active on social media than Mitt Romney’s campaign. Obama has nearly 19 million Twitter followers while Romney hasn’t breached one million. A recent Pew report suggested Obama had the digital advantage over opponent Mitt Romney because, in part, Obama posts and tweets four times the amount of content found on Romney’s online profiles.
However, Zac Moffatt, digital director at Mitt Romney for President, says those numbers are largely meaningless.
During a panel on social media and the 2012 election held in Tampa, Florida during the Republican National Convention, Moffatt split social metrics into two categories: “vanity” metrics and “actionable” metrics. For Moffatt, follower counts and number of posts fall into the latter category: they look good on the surface, but they’re almost useless as a measure of social success.
Moffatt argued that while Obama’s digital team may be beating Romney’s in terms of followers, tweets and platforms, those are vanity metrics — and Romney’s got the advantage in actionable metrics and engagement.
“It’s about quality over quantity,” said Moffatt. “It doesn’t matter how many people you have following you if you don’t have people engaging with you.”
He then pointed to both campaigns’ social media efforts around the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act as an example.
“Obama had 27 million followers on his Facebook page, we had less than 5 million,” he said. “But when the ruling came, we saw 27% engagement with our audience while they only got 1.5%.”
Mashable asked Moffatt if those numbers would have been reversed if the Supreme Court had struck down the bill, on the premise that people may be more prone to engage with an unwanted result.
“I don’t know if it would’ve moved them from 1.5% to 27%,” Moffatt said. However, he added that he would be a “lot more nervous” about Obama’s digital strategy if they had more engagement.
Moffatt’s quality over quantity and engagement-first strategy may be paying off: Adam Sharp, head of Twitter’s Government, News and Social Innovation Team, revealed during the same panel that while Obama used to enjoy a four-to-one mention ratio advantage over Romney, that lead is being steadily erased, and it will only be a few more weeks until it evens out at one-to-one.
Does Barack Obama or Mitt Romney have a better social strategy? Why?
Read more of Mashable’s coverage of the Republican National Convention: