January 20, 2012 By blogging

Facebook Faceoff

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Art imitates life, but does Facebook? Many people argue that getting too involved in social media devalues real life relationships. Studies have shown estimates that Facebook is the cause of one in five divorces. Does this mean that everything we do on social sites translates to the real world? Although one may be hesitant to suggest that the answer is yes, it is evident that even when looking into the less personal sphere of politics, Facebook can play an omniscient role.

In the race for the spot of the Republican candidate, likes and shares have run parallel with the winners of primaries. Mitt Romney, with 1,349,187 likes and 108,827 shares won both the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary. Coming in second, Ron Paul, with 752,412 likes and 98,979 shares placed third in Iowa and second in New Hampshire.

These numbers of course are not the only things that people will be looking at. Just because you see your candidate have a strong presence on Facebook does not technically mean that you are more or less likely to vote for them. Rick Santorum; the candidate with the slowest social media growth (clocking in at 79,806 likes and 21,328 shares) actually came in a shockingly close second at the coveted Iowa debates.

In the social media world, it is well known that it is not only likes but shares that show engagement from our fans.

The uptrend of fans of Romney and Paul may suggest that their gains in polls have a strong correlation – to reiterate are not entirely based – to the amount of engagement they gain on social sites. In PR social media engagement must lead to physical engagement. Encouraging a Facebook fan to actually get out to the polls and cast a vote must be quite the endeavor and it will be interesting to see which candidate wins out.

While these numbers may be telling, how do they rally against our incumbent President? Though there is surely a correlation between the fact that he is our current leader and the high level of activity and amount of likes on his page, he does lead the pack with a staggering 24,561,175 likes and 261,220 shares.

We’ll be sure to keep you informed with social media political news as the election coverage continues!

**Facebook uses an automated process to identify and analyze all Facebook posts and comments that are made by U.S. users and mention any of the presidential candidates. The analysis of sentiment is done using Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count [http://www.liwc.net/], a well-validated software tool used frequently in social psychological research to identify positive and negative emotion in text. No employees at Facebook or POLITICO read the posts and all measures are aggregated by candidate and by day. Facebook provided POLITICO with total post volumes and average sentiment levels for each candidate from Dec. 12 through Jan. 15.