Social Media and “IT” Factors Behind Election of Scott Brown

The country is still reeling from the upset that U.S. Senator-Elect Scott Brown pulled off in winning the special election to fill Senator Edward Kennedy’s Senate seat from Massachusetts.  Imagine, a Republican Senator from the most Blue state in the nation.  

The political pundits are still chewing over Martha Coakley’s defeat – she ran a lackluster campaign, she sent the wrong message by taking a vacation in December, she mistakenly said that former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling was a Yankees fan.  A Yankees fan!

But I’d like to examine what I think were two of the most decisive factors:

Social Media

Scott Brown’s tremendous advantage in numbers of fans and followers on the social media sites Facebook and Twitter.  His conservative message resonated on the Internet.  On Facebook Brown had 150,000 fans to Coakley’s 18,463. On Twitter, Brown had 17,312 followers to Coakley’s 4,271.  Just look at the multiples as each fan and follower’s messages in turn sped through the blogosphere to their followers. A social media poll the WordStream Internet Marketing Blog claimed that Scott Brown held a significant edge over Martha Coakley in social media engagement metrics and predicted his election while he was still trailing badly in other polls.  Consider Brown’s numbers:

  • A 10:1 advantage in Web traffic
  • A 10:1 advantage in YouTube video viewership
  • A 3:1 advantage in Twitter followers
  • A  4:1 advantage in Facebook followers

The “IT” Factor

OK, we know that social media played a major role in Brown’s election.  But let’s be honest, folks, it didn’t hurt that he was handsome, had a daughter who was an American Idol finalist and that he posed nude for a Cosmo centerfold when he was a 22-year-old student, winning the magazine’s “America’s Sexiest Man” competition.

As Cosmo says on its site, “Compared to some men in the GOP, this politician looks pretty damn good for his age. We bet he still has an amazing body underneath his suit and tie. There have been plenty of pics of our president running around without his shirt, so now that a precedent has been set, we’re hoping to see Scott shirtless again.”

Scott Brown has the “IT” factor.  He’s hot.  Call it charisma, fantasize about his abs, but don’t think his sex appeal didn’t sway some voters.

By Jeannette Paladino, Writer-in-Chief Write Speak Sell

  4 comments for “Social Media and “IT” Factors Behind Election of Scott Brown

  1. January 23, 2010 at 4:06 am

    Yes, I agree with the points you made here Jeannette, but I think that the post election polls have also demonstrated some rather old fashioned dissatisfaction in MA with the perceived politcs of big government that folks associate with the Democrats. The Democrats have to resize their messages and figrue out ways to get them out to the people who will or wll not vote for them.

  2. January 23, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    Although you are probably correct about the “IT” factor, I am so impressed by the social networking numbers. The big question is why the disparity in the social networking numbers between the two candidates. Was one better at social networking than the other? Was it the message of one over the other? Or was it the “IT” factor of which you speak?

    Interesting stuff and a timely post. Thanks you, Jeannette!

  3. January 24, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    Thanks, Nils and Mike, for your comments. No doubt, voter dissatisfaction with tone deaf politicos in Washington was a big factor. I think it was a perfect storm of voter dissatisfaction, the power of social media in building communities of unhappy voters and the “IT” factor.

  4. January 24, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    The ratios you mentioned, coupled with Brown’s win may cause other people in business, politics and entertainment to say, “hey this social media thing might make a difference between us winning and losing in 2010 and beyond.”

    I remember running in to people from Bill Clinton’s Presidential campaign in ’91 and ’92 when I was living in the DC area and Clinton’s staffers made tremendous use of laptops/email and fax machines to coordinate campaign activities and blast responses to media outlets when critical stories surfaced.

    In ’07 and ’08, Barack Obama’s campaign made an updated use of the world-wide-web that emerged for popular use during the Clinton years. Obama’s campaign assembled millions in direct, individual online contributions, aired constantly updated videos on YouTube, and had a presence on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and elsewhere that probably surpassed John McCain’s.

    I find it interesting now that Scott Brown, a Republican Senator-Elect, has apparently taken a few pages from President Obama’s campaign play-book. It will be interesting to see how social media factors in to congressional elections in November this year. That might give us a more definitive answer on social media’s value to political campaigns.

    But my money is on social media being a big factor in the election outcomes this year.

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