Social media seems to be playing a prominent role in the U.S. Presidential elections this time around, with parties realising that voters are keenly following the key candidates on networking sites

The U.S. Presidential elections have found a new weapon — ‘social media,’ claims a young enthusiast.

BC: Hey, did you watch the Presidential debates on TV?

AD: That’s 60s stuff… You should have caught the action online — it was incredible.

BC: Really?

AD: Reports have it that the first debate was the most tweeted political event in the history of Twitter, with over 10 million tweets.

BC: I’m surprised at the importance being given to social media.

AD: With almost 60 per cent of the voters in the U.S. active on social networking sites, neither party wants to miss out on them.

BC: So, who’s leading?

AD: While there are reports favouring both sides, Obama is generally considered more active online. He has over 21 million Twitter followers and over 31 million fans on his Facebook page. These numbers dwarf those of his Republican counterpart.

BC: Guess he had a headstart, having been President for a term already.

AD: That’s right. Social media is also being used as an analytical tool to gather data, like the response of the public to the campaigns.

BC: So what’s been the response like?

AD: Sometimes, it soars like Big Bird.

BC: What’s that — the eagle?

AD: No, Big Bird is a character from a popular series, Sesame Street. In one of the debates, Romney had mentioned that he liked the character — and soon, there were several videos, photos, spoofs and comments, all of which went viral.

BC: So now, Romney has both the donkey and Big Bird to watch out for!

AD: He also has the Internet to monitor, because more Democrats have been contributing online — through websites and smartphones — to see their party win, compared to Republicans.

BC: Perhaps Republicans are more comfortable with old-fashioned methods of donations.

AD: What’s equally concerning for Romney are jibes that are creating havoc online — like Romnesia, a term coined by Obama about his opponent backtracking on his original policies.

BC: I’m sure the social networks must be lapping it all up.

AD: Absolutely! Likewise, Romney’s ‘binders full of women’ comment, which was originally intended to explain his search for qualified women to be part of his team, ended up being parodied on Twitter and Facebook.

BC: Poor man, so technology does have him in a bind.

AD: The other big problem is when your opponent has more — they simply take over your hashtag and ‘out-tweet’ you. Apparently, the Democrats have stolen the Republicans’ thunder at least a couple of times on Twitter.

BC: But the number of fans or followers in an online forum may not be an indication of the number of votes that a candidate might get.

AD: Absolutely. Besides, if popularity on Twitter can decide who’s going to be President, then the United States could well get its first woman President.

BC: Really? Who?

AD: Lady Gaga. She has over 30 million followers, which is 10 million more than Barack Obama.

BC: Well, the voters will truly face the music if that happens.

AD: It’s a bit like the opinion polls before an election... The final result could simply make a mockery of the predictions — we’ve seen it happen many times in India.

BC: However, whoever wins the U.S. elections is going to feel like Superman as he occupies the world’s most powerful chair.

AD: But even Superman has acknowledged that social media is more powerful than he is.

BC: What do you mean?

AD: Well, news has it that Clark Kent has quit his job as a reporter for the Daily Planet and has taken up a job as a blogger in a social network.

sureshl.india@gmail.com