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Social Media Buzz Doesn't Amount to Increase In Polls, Paul Ryan Proves

by Jane Susskind, published

Despite his success climbing the social ranks of Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, Rep. Paul Ryan has done little to boost Mitt Romney's numbers in the presidential tracking polls.

According to a recent Gallup survey, Romney's numbers have seen an increase of 1 percentage point, an insignificant boost in terms of polling. Interestingly enough, Paul Ryan was the most talked about politician on Facebook over the weekend, with his numbers far surpassing those of VP competitor Joe Biden.

Credit: Gallup

Gallup does, however, point out the possibility of a delayed boost:

While the initial indication is no increase in Romney's support after naming Ryan, the data suggest the possibility that Romney may get a delayed bounce, as he fared slightly better in Aug. 13-14 Gallup tracking than in Aug. 11-12 tracking.

What does this say about social media? Contrary to the popular phrase "any press is good press," any social media mention is not necessarily a good social media mention, as the sentiment on social media channels was both positive and negative towards Paul Ryan. The analytical platform Crimson Hexagon analyzed the types of messages that were being sent out on Twitter in the days following Romney's announcement:

In our analysis, we found that 55% of the conversation focused on sharing the news through mentions of the candidate (27%) or by publicizing the announcement (6%), yet others engaged through humor (22%).  Echoing the tradition of political satirists from Mark Twain to Jon Stewart, we find that humor is a significant mode through which people engage and interact about politics and this highly-anticipated announcement via social media.

Moral of the story: Social media, while an invaluable tool for politicians and candidates alike, does not guarantee immediate results. 

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