Obama and Romney Facebook stores and donation apps tied for users, but Obama 2012 app beats ‘Commit to Mitt’

An AppData analysis of Facebook app usage shows Barack Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s Facebook stores and donation apps have equal reach this month, but more people are using the Obama 2012 app than “Commit to Mitt” and similar apps on Romney’s page.

Both candidates have used Facebook extensively over the course of the campaign. Romney’s camp seemed more adept at running Facebook ads, as we’ve written about previously, but Obama’s team is now showing its strength in apps. The Obama 2012 app has taken advantage of the notifications beta to remind users to vote and contact friends in swing states. The app, which is accessible from Facebook and BarackObama.com, has 1.1 million monthly active users.

A similar app for Mitt Romney called Commit to Mitt has only 30,000 MAU. However, Romney’s page also features a Stand With Mitt app with 40,000 MAU and a Stand With Mitt Photo Upload app with 2,000 MAU. There may be some overlap in users of those three apps, but even if the totals were discrete, that’s still more than 1 million fewer monthly active users than Obama’s app has.

The candidates’ store and donate apps are tied for usage. The stores have 20,000 MAU each, and the donation apps each have 10,000 MAU.

Obama’s page has a email collection form with 4,000 MAU. There is no equivalent app on Romney’s page.

Romney has four other apps on his page that Obama doesn’t have. One is a pledge of support for American small businesses with 10,000 MAU. A petition app against Obama’s economic policies has 2,000 MAU, and a petition app against Obama’s heathcare policy has 1,000 MAU. Finally, there’s an app called “What’s Your Take” that asks users about issues, which has 900 monthly active users. Again, there may be overlap in users here, but even if there wasn’t, the totals are still less than the 1.1 million Obama has with his main app.

Does Romney have a better Facebook strategy than Obama?

Republican candidate Mitt Romney is leading President Barack Obama in Facebook engagement and new Likes, in part because of a strong social ad campaign that takes advantage of the latest opportunities on Facebook.

Obama might have the most Facebook fans of any politician — approaching 28 million — but the average number of interactions per day on his page has not been much higher than on Romney’s page, which passed 5 million Likes this weekend. There are likely several factors at play here. Larger pages routinely have a lower percentage of engaged users compared to pages with fewer Likes. New fans are more likely to see page posts than people who have Liked the page for a while, so Obama might not be reaching much of his audience as Romney currently is.

But beyond these inherent disadvantages, the Democratic campaign doesn’t seem to be taking the right steps to maximize its impact on Facebook. It’s posting less frequently and seems to be running fewer social ads.

Romney’s team, on the other hand, is using all the newest Facebook marketing and advertising features. In addition to posting more than four times per day on average, they’re running Sponsored Results so that Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan show up in the results when users search for “Obama,” “Biden,” “Democrats,” “Republicans” and other political pages. This is something that only became available last week. The Republican campaign is also running page post ads and Sponsored Stories, including in the News Feed. All these ads drive users to Romney and Paul’s Facebook pages, leading to more new Likes and a higher People Talking About This count.

Obama’s campaign seems to have been only running traditional ads in the sidebar. This type of ad, which leads off-Facebook and does not have a Like button or social context, is known among social marketers as the worst performing unit on Facebook. Not only do these ads cost more and have lower average clickthrough rates than others on the social network, when users do notice and interact with them, there is no social amplification of this action. Users’ friends won’t see that they Liked the page or engaged with a post because there are no calls to action from the ad to do these things.

However, with Romney’s social ads, each paid action can result in additional exposure. For example, users might see that their friends claimed an offer or shared a photo. And each new page Like opens up more of an audience to target with Sponsored Stories, which only appear to friends of fans.

In 2008, many pointed to Obama’s use of digital and social platforms as a key factor of his success. But Facebook moves fast, and his team doesn’t seem to be as up to date as the Republicans are this time around. The campaign might be too reliant on organic activity, which as many marketers are discovering, isn’t necessarily enough to succeed on Facebook anymore. Obama’s team might also be weaker than Romney’s on Facebook because it is putting more effort toward other channels like Twitter and YouTube.

Follow the candidates’ Facebook progress using our Election Tracker and PageData tools.

Facebook and CNN team up for U.S. presidential election initiatives

Facebook has partnered with CNN to offer apps and insights related to the 2012 U.S. presidential election, the social network announced today.

Facebook and CNN will launch an “I’m Voting” application for users to commit to vote and endorse particular candidates and issues. The Open Graph-enabled app will display users’ pledges to vote in Ticker, Timeline and News Feed, as well as in an interactive map. Facebook says the app, which will be available in English and Spanish, will serve as a “second screen” for CNN’s election coverage. CNN personalities will use the app to ask Facebook users questions throughout the election cycle and report on the results.

Facebook will also provide CNN with metrics about the discussion of each presidential and vice presidential candidate on the social network. The companies will survey voting-age users around the time of the national conventions, presidential debates, election day and any other significant dates. This is likely similar to the partnership Facebook had with Politico during the Republican primaries. Facebook also previously worked with NBC News to implement research polls leading up to the primaries.

Facebook has been active in promoting participation in U.S. national elections since 2008. On election day, Facebook has let users search for their polling place and publish an “I voted” status. In April 2011, the company held a live townhall with President Barack Obama at its Palo Alto headquarters. Most recently, the social network co-sponsored the GOP presidential debate before the New Hampshire Republican primary with NBC’s “Meet The Press” and partnered with R/GA to produce a political polling app, 2012 Matters: What Matters Most. Through the app, users could indicate which issues were most important to them and have their answers appear on the Nasdaq digital billboard in Times Square.

Readers can follow how the candidates’ Facebook fan bases are growing and how many people are talking about their pages by using our Inside Facebook Election Tracker and PageData service.


Santorum loses fans; competition heats up between Obama and Romney this week on Inside Facebook’s Election Tracker

With Rick Santorum dropping out of the Republican presidential primary race on Tuesday, his Facebook page has begun to lose Likes, according to our Inside Facebook Election Tracker.

Mitt Romney’s page experienced a large surge following Santorum’s announcement, as Romney has essentially clinched the nomination to challenge Barack Obama for the presidency. Newt Gingrich, who has not yet ended his bid despite trailing in the polls, has been losing fans for the past few weeks. Ron Paul’s Facebook fan base continues to grow, though there is a much wider gap between him and Romney than previous months.

Despite the loss in fans, Santorum’s page had its highest People Talking About this count since March 24. A post about the end of his campaign generated more than 23,000 total Likes, comments and shares.

Romney’s page has had a lot of engagement this past week, particularly with an anti-Obama post that has more than 58,000 Likes. Now that Timeline has rolled out to all pages, Facebook seems to be showing cover photo stories more prominently in News Feed than it does profile photo changes, for example. Romney’s Facebook page managers might have noticed this and have cleverly decided to change his cover photo every few days. This activity generates between hundreds and thousands of fan interactions.

Obama’s page has had a number of anti-Romney posts this week that fans seem to be responding to. However, with a fan base of close to 26 million Likes, Obama’s page has only a 1.3 percent ratio of People Talking About This to total Likes. Romney’s page with 1.5 million fans has a 6 percent ratio of PTAT to Likes.

Romney leads, Gingrich loses fans, plus new insights from Timeline this week on Inside Facebook’s Election Tracker

Apart from a few single-day dips this month, Mitt Romney leads the Republican presidential primary candidates in new Facebook Likes per day, according to our Inside Facebook Election Tracker.

This week Newt Gingrich had several days of negative fan growth, losing as many as 50 Likes in a day. Although Gingrich has scaled back on his campaign, he tells the press that he will stay in the race until Romney gets the 1,144 convention delegates he needs to win the nomination. Despite winning decisively in Louisiana on March 24, Rick Santorum saw his rate of new fans decline this week. Ron Paul has also lost momentum.

With today’s mandatory conversion to Timeline for pages, we can see new insights about the demographics of each candidate’s fans. Santorum’s most popular city is Pittsburg, Pa. Santorum served as U.S. senator for Pennsylvania from 1995 to 2007. The majority of Santorum’s fans are between 35 and 54 years old. Gingrich’s fans are concentrated in the 45 to 54 age range and his most popular city is Atlanta, Ga. He grew up in Georgia and served in the House of Representatives for the state. Paul’s most popular city is Houston, Texas. He serves in the U.S. House on behalf of Texas’ 14th district. His fans skew younger than others, with most of them in the 25 to 35 range. Romney, as we noted two weeks ago when he switched to Timeline early, has the most fans in Salt Lake City, Utah, between the ages of 45 and 54.

Santorum sees post-primary gain; Romney switches to Timeline this week on our Inside Facebook Election Tracker

Rick Santorum gained more than 2,300 new Facebook fans following wins in the Alabama and Mississippi primaries on Tuesday, briefly surpassing Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, who typically gain more Likes each day. This is according to the Inside Facebook Election Tracker, which pulls information from our PageData product.

Romney won the Hawaii caucus on Tuesday, but it didn’t translate into additional fans as it did for Santorum. Fans on Santorum’s page were more active in Liking and commenting on posts after the election, leading to more News Feed impressions than Romney’s page. Santorum’s page has only about 180,000 Likes compared to Romney’s 1.5 million, but Santorum’s ratio of People Talking About This to total Likes is 24 percent and Romney’s is only 5 percent.

Newt Gingrich has the slowest growing page among Republican presidential candidates, but he has the second highest ratio of People Talking About This to Likes: 13 percent. His page achieves this through shareworthy images like the popular one below, but his team posts less frequently than others.

Romney is the only candidate to have converted his page to the new Timeline format. With the switch, we can now get further details about his fans. Romney has the most fans from Salt Lake City, Utah, likely related to his Mormon beliefs. And 45 to 54 is the most popular age group for the page.

The other candidates have until March 30 to convert their pages voluntarily. After that date, all pages will automatically show up with the new design and features.

Romney back on top this week on Inside Facebook’s Election Tracker

Mitt Romney is once again gaining more new Facebook fans per day than any other Republican Presidential Primary candidate, according to our Inside Facebook Election Tracker.

Romney won the Michigan and Arizona primaries on Tuesday and has since pulled ahead of the other candidates as far as the number of new page Likes he gets each day. His fan growth had slowed significantly over the course of the month as Rick Santorum gained steam. Somewhat surprisingly, each candidate saw far fewer new fans on the most recent election day.

None of the candidates has switched their fan pages to the new Timeline format, although President Barack Obama and several members of Congress have. Gingrich created a personal profile in February, but he has only picked up 6,360 subscribers. Now that pages can tell their story through Timeline, there is less reason for candidates to divide their audience between pages and profiles.

We look forward to candidates switching to Timeline so we can see additional insights about the demographics that Like each page.

Santorum gains most new fans; Gingrich gets Timeline this week on Inside Facebook’s Election Tracker

Rick Santorum continues to gain more new Facebook Likes per day than other Republican primary candidates. His page averaged more than 2,600 new fans per day, according to our Inside Facebook Election Tracker.

Santorum also has a very high ratio of People Talking About This to total Likes — about 48 percent compared to Newt Gingrich’s 18 percent, Ron Paul’s 9 percent and Mitt Romney’s 6 percent. Part of this is attributable to the influx of new fans after Santorum swept the Super Tuesday elections. The other factor is how active his team has been making between 9 and 17 posts each day.

Gingrich has had the slowest fan page growth of all the candidates this month. He is the only candidate, however, to create a Timeline profile and enable subscribers. He has fewer than 2,800 subscribers as of this post, but if he can work with Facebook to get a verified account, Gingrich could start to see more subscribers. So far his team is making more posts to the fan page than Timeline, but we will watch how the use of each space evolves over the course of the campaign.

The next primaries are in Arizona and Michigan on Feb. 28.

Santorum soars this week on Inside Facebook’s Election Tracker

Rick Santorum gained close to 9,000 new Facebook fans in a single day after winning the Republican presidential primaries in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado on Tuesday. For the first time since we began monitoring candidate’s pages with the Inside Facebook Election Tracker, Santorum has earned more new Likes than any other candidate.

Santorum’s Facebook page has been incredibly active in recent days, making up to 17 posts per day, many of which are shared hundreds of times.

Mitt Romney, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich’s pages make four or fewer posts per day. Though Romney’s page has the most total Likes (more than 1.4 million), he is seeing the lowest engagement. Some of his posts have zero shares. The current ratio between Romney’s “Talking About This” number and total Likes is 0.08 compared to Santorum’s 0.42.

The Maine caucus is Saturday. We will see if Santorum’s Facebook momentum translates to a win there in our Election Tracker round-up next week.

Santorum makes gains following debate this week on Inside Facebook’s Election Tracker

Some pundits expect Rick Santorum to drop out of the race after the Florida primary, but his Facebook page has gotten a burst of new Likes since Thursday’s debate, according to our Inside Facebook Election Tracker.

There is still time for things to change before Florida voters go to the polls on Tuesday, but in the past, we’ve seen correlation between Facebook growth and election performance. Newt Gingrich’s page was on the rise leading up to the South Carolina primary and had a large spike the day after he won there. His growth has since leveled off, but remains higher than it had been two weeks ago.

Ron Paul reached a new high with more than 9,500 new Likes in a single day following the debate in Tampa, Florida. He has been gaining the most new fans per day for the past week. Mitt Romney’s growth has slowed over the last few days, mirroring his drop in the polls.

For a closer look at how GOP presidential primary candidates are performing on the social network, visit our election tracker.

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