Tracking and counting political tweets and Facebook 'likes' are now a part of American politics - perhaps in much the same way that a teenager might observe and evaluate their popularity.
Yes, there is now a daily Twitter Political Index.
And there's high-profile use this year of political parties on Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram.
Campaign strategists eyed the tweet-count for the Republican convention (Paul Ryan peaked at 6,000 tweets per minute, Romney had 14,300) and easily put their texting prowess to work - President Obama had 52,000 tweets per minute during his speech.
The singer Madonna, however, racked up 10,000 tweets per second during her Super Bowl halftime performance. (stat counts via here and here) But does any of this translate to actual votes?
The Pew Research folks compiled a study earlier this year on how Democrats, Republicans and Independent voters rated "social media" as a political tool. Some of the results:
"Some but not most users of social networking sites (SNS) say the sites are important for a variety of political activities:
- 36% of SNS users say the sites are “very important” or “somewhat important” to them in keeping up with political news.
- 26% of SNS users say the sites are “very important” or “somewhat important” to them in recruiting people to get involved in political issues that matter to them.
- 25% of SNS users say the sites are “very important” or “somewhat important” to them for debating or discussing political issues with others.
- 25% of SNS users say the sites are “very important” or “somewhat important” to them in finding other people who share their views about important political issues.
In each activity, Democrats who use social networking sites are more likely than Republicans or independents to say the sites are important."
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Being talked about seems to be the goal, with the hope then that talk translate into votes. As an organizing tool, it would seem to be quite valuable and it also seems that Democrats use it best. If it leads to votes, however, is still the real question.
Or is all the twittering, pinteresting, facebooking merely a modern version of capturing hearts and minds?