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Why She Lost: Obama's Social Media Playbook Ignored By Martha Coakley

Chris Hughes, sometimes referred to as the "Kingmaker" was largely responsible for Obama's victory over McCain in the last presidential election. Hughes, the wunderkind of social networking developed a social media campaign, the likes of which had never been seen before in modern politics. The digerati were the early adopters, followed by the goose-stepping queue of the Twitterati and the Facebookers. With such success why wouldn't Ted Kennedy's would-be successor have not followed suit?

While Obama ended his campaign with nearly 4 times more Facebook supporters and an astounding twenty times more Twitter followers, Martha Coakley's stats just don't add up.

According to a Huffington Post report, @MarthaCoakley only managed to attract 3,520 Twitter followersScott BrownScott Brown compared to @ScottBrownMA 's 10,214. And there is even a greater disparity when you look at their Facebook Fan numbers: Coakley tallies 14,487 while Scott is currently communicating with 76,700 fans on the number social networking site in the world.

A study conducted by the Emerging Media Research Council out today found that Brown had a more effective strategy of using social networking tools including  YouTube to promote his campaign and connect with supporters:

  • YouTube Videos: Brown (57), Coakley (52)
  • YouTube Video Views: Brown (578,271), Coakley (51,173)
The study concluded that Brown’s use of social media helped in several ways, including boosting his name recognition both in and out of Massachusetts. They note that just 51% of Massachusetts voters had heard of Brown in a Nov. 12 poll, by Jan. 14 his name recognition was at 95%.

Tweets from Republican supporters were expected...

But curious to note that while Sarah Palin was waxing poetic about her fellow GOP on Twitter, she failed to see the irony in publicly chastising the man that impregnated her daughter as someone that was no better than a "Porn Star," while Mr. Brown's colorful past included a Cosmopolitan centerfold when he was in his early 20s.

Scott Brown at 22Scott Brown at 22

While Kennedy was part of last century's Bostonian political machine, it appears that his old school brand of politicking might have come to an end.  Today, the state of Massachusetts is a "hotbed of information technology," where the digerati is plugged in, linked up and well-connected.

So why did the Coakley campaign underestimate the power that virtually put her Democratic counterpart in the White House? If the younger demographic is what you need to edge out the competition, wouldn't it had made a lot more sense to elevate your campaign to the 21st Century technology to communicate with this new constituency?  

On the flip-side, did Obama have so much on his plate that he couldn't have seen the deficiencies in her Chris HughesChris Hughescampaign? Why weren't his advisers keeping him abreast so he could have sent in his campaign team of social media experts? Or better yet, re-recruit Chris Hughes and allow him to dig back into his social media toolbox to pump some life back into this senator race?

UPDATE: In a January 21 Daily News report, titled, "President Obama takes some blame for Dems' loss of Ted Kennedy's Senate..." he admitted to fault. "We were so busy just getting stuff done and dealing with the immediate crises that were in front of us that I think we lost some of that sense of speaking directly to the American people about what their core values are," Obama admitted.

Far be it from me to have called this race, but the writing did seem to be on the wall (Facebook) and the Twitterstream for that matter. As the voters turned out in numbers, the final result of this election has the potential of turning the tide in the Senate. With now 59 versus 60 votes for the Dems, get ready for some heavy filibustering. But more disappointing should be the realization that lessons learned just one year ago were not revisited in this state election. Social Media, I am afraid was the game-changer then, and social media remains the game-changer today. The Dems let down their guard and the opposition snatched a copy of the president's old playbook -- while no one watching.

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Ron Callari
Social Media Trends
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