Social Media Spotlight: Obama 2012 campaign losing on SEO
President Barack Obama kicked off his 2012 re-election campaign last week on — where else? — Twitter and Facebook signifying the continued importance of social media in the U.S. presidential elections. Obama has plenty of Facebook and Twitter followers ready to back his campaign a second time around. But where the Obama Facebook account works as a source of inspiration for digitally minded politicians, the Obama campaign this time round falls well short of the rousing “Yes we can!” spirit we’ve seen from his camp in the past.
It’s only been a week since the official online announcement and it’s clear that social media will be a major part of the Obama 2012 campaign. The initial announcement, which was sent to his 19 million Facebook fans, his 7 million Twitter followers and the millions of people on his email supporter list, asked Americans to “Say they are in” by joining him on Facebook or signing up on the official 2012 campaign website. The campaign’s Facebook effort even has its own application called “Are You In?” that helps you announce your support to your Facebook friends and to ask them to lend a hand in the movement. So far the application has over 100,000 active users. The campaign also released its first YouTube video, which has already received over 400,000 views. Not bad.
But as Mashable was quick to point out, the GOP was right behind Obama with a set of attack YouTube video responses. One of the GOP’s (many) hopeful rivals, Tim Pawlenty, posted his first campaign video on his Facebook page, home to 82,000 fans. Mitt Romney too responded to his 32,500 followers on Twitter by saying “@barackobama I look forward to hearing details on your jobs plan, as are 14m unemployed Americans.” Surprisingly, lightning rod Obama-bashers Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich have so far steered away from any official social media comment.
The most clever of the GOP’s rebuttals online so far comes in the form of a YouTube video entitled “President Barack Obama’s First Ad of 2012,” which shows the president fishing and golfing while it points out various criticisms ranging from continued U.S. oil dependence to the huge government deficit. The video has already received 1.2 million views after going live last week. The key to the video’s success seems to be that it is the number one search result (at the moment) for the keywords “Obama 2012” on Google.
In fact, it looks like the Obama 2012 campaign in general has forgotten to optimize its search engine visibility. After the YouTube videos, the top two search results are unofficial anti-Obama blogs. The first, 2012Obama.com, features five top stories about the merits of GOP contenders relative Obama, and the second, whowillwinthe2012election.com, features a top story entitled “Scientist Discover the Cause of Liberalism”, which unabashedly claims that “smog causes modern Liberalism.” The website’s online poll has Ron Paul currently winning the election with 44% of the vote. The No. 3 result, meanwhile, is a Obama-supporting blog named barackobama-2012.blogspot.com, which was started shortly after the 2008 election by unofficial supporters and is littered with a lot of annoying Google search ads.
Nonetheless, the Obama-supporting blog saw a jump of 3,000 new fans on its Facebook page in the past week for a total of 28,000 fans. The change is illustrated in the graph below.
It’s early yet, but not having a solid SEO strategy for the 2012 campaign could prove problematic for Obama’s re-election team. While it certainly isn’t bad that people are interacting with supportive independent blogs, the Obama team risks losing the centralized voice of its social media presence as the core of the online movement. It could be, for example, that an older and not-so-savvy social media demographic who goes to a Google search first will miss the official Obama 2012 site and see independent anti-Obama blogs in its place. Not a good start.