One of the reasons why President Obama won the 2008 election was because of his campaigns mastery of social media and online marketing. The Obama campaign embraced these two forms of marketing, creating a winning online strategy that appealed to Millennials especially. Four years later, have Republicans caught up in terms of marketing their campaigns effectively online? The top two candidates on the Republican side right now are former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. Which campaign has the best online marketing strategy? Let’s put the two campaigns head to head and find out.
Let’s analyze Romney and Santorum’s brands in terms of their online marketing efforts. We’ll focus on three categories: social media impact, website engagement, and website SEO and inbound links.
Social Media Impact
Facebook: Romney’s Facebook page has a whopping 1,509,746 “likes,” versus Santorum’s meager 164,906. This is a HUGE difference! Also, Romney has almost 80,000 people talking about him on Facebook whereas Santorum has just over 41,000 people talking about him. Also, Romney’s page, powered by digital media company Thismoment, just looks a lot better than Santorum’s
Twitter: Again Romney has more followers, with 360,155 versus Santorum’s 153,375. Surprisingly, though, Santorum has actually tweeted about twice as much as Romney in total. Santorum has been tweeting an average of 5.4 times a day for the past week, which is impressive compared to Romney’s 1.4 average tweets per pay during the same period. Tweeting more often allows Santorum to be more engaged with his audience as well as more informative. He often retweets posts by his followers and keeps them up to date on the latest happenings with his campaign. Romney does the same thing, just much less frequently, which loses him points. Over the past eight weeks, however, Romney has been gaining both Facebook “likes” and Twitter followers at a much faster pace than Santorum
Overall, it’s possible that Santorum might have slightly more social media engagement with his followers, but there’s no denying that Romney has more followers in every category and is therefore the clear winner in terms of social media impact. Romney also has a higher Klout score (77) than Santorum (66).
Winner: Mitt Romney
Website engagement measures how users interact with a website. Website owners want users to be able to easily navigate a site and find information they are looking for. In terms of our two contestants, I would assume they would also want users to stay on their site for as long as possible, researching the candidate’s platform, clicking multiple pages, and donating to the campaign. They also need a site that effectively communicates their political message to visitors.
When visiting Romney’s website, visitors are asked to provide their email address and zip code before even entering the actual website. Obviously this is to grow Romney’s database, but it doesn’t fall in line with the permission marketing concept that businesses are beginning to follow. Upon entering both the sites, they look very similar. Both sites make it easy for visitors to find each candidate’s bio and the issues they stand for, as well as donate money.
From a design standpoint, Romney’s website definitely looks better than Santorum’s, though. Santorum’s site does the job, but it doesn’t look like he’s put as much money into it as Romney has.
Winner: Mitt Romney
Website SEO & Inbound Links
SEO and inbound links are very important to a website because they determine how high up on a Google search the site will appear. It will be hard for a website to be on the first page of a Google search without many inbound links to the site. It also tells us how popular the website is in the vast sea of the World Wide Web. While SEO is probably not a major concern for these presidential candidates, whoever runs their website is probably very concerned with SEO.
A Google search for “Santorum,” for example, provides links to many anti-Santorum sites on the first page of Google. Santorum’s actual website isn’t even the first website on the page, it’s third! The fourth website is called “Spreading Santorum,” and has the quote, “The frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the by-product of anal sex” visible right underneath the link to the website. I’m sure Team Santorum is not very pleased about this; they obviously need to work on their SEO.
According to HubSpot’s Marketing Grader tool, Romney beats Santorum 91 to 66. Marketing Grader is an assessment tool that analyzes a site’s entire marketing funnel and compares it to another site. When looking at inbound links to their websites, Romney wins with 3,828 inbound links versus Santorum’s 1,566. Romney also has 10,800 pages indexed by search engines while Santorum only has 1,460.
Romney’s site has a blog that publishes new posts every three hours on average. These blog posts are being shared an average of 75 times on Facebook and 38 times on Twitter. Santorum also has a blog but new posts are created much less frequently.
Winner: Mitt Romney
If the next Republican presidential candidate were to be picked strictly on the basis of online marketing, Romney would be the clear winner. He beats Santorum in all three categories; Team Santorum needs to step up their efforts if they want to pull ahead on Super Tuesday.