Remember when it was a big deal when U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama joined Twitter?
Twitter has long been a destination for pundits and wags to post witty 140-character tweets about political goings-on, like GOP primary debates featuring folks like Rick Santorum (New Yorker writer @RyanLizza “I hope Buzzfeed is already preparing a slide show of Santorum facial reactions to Romney”) and Mitt Romney (comedian @AlbertBrooks “If I were advising Romney I would tell him to stop bragging about the Olympics and just come to these debates on skis”).
But if 2008’s election was the first truly Internet election – President Barack Obama, sometimes dubbed the first Tech President, certainly benefitted from grassroots efforts on the web – 2012 looks to be the social race. But many of the traditional social networks are as old as Obama’s presidency – such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook – and the race is on to own the latest digital playgrounds, such as Pinterest.
And now, Ann Romney, wife of GOP frontrunner-through-attrition Mitt Romney, is one of more than 10 million registered users pinning her passions.
While her husband marches the campaign trail, she is filling up boards with photos of patriotic dipped strawberries, independence punch and even red, white, and blue Chex mix – I kid you not. There’s also a lot of “humanizing” of the robot-like former Bain consultant, CEO and Governor of Massachusetts, with pictures of the family vacationing in New Hampshire and an Instagram pic of Mitt riding a sleigh with his grandson. Reddit.com needs to turn that beauty into a meme immediately: “Mitt Sleighing with Things.”
In all seriousness, I'm impressed with the creativity. After all, this is exactly what a social media strategist would advise doing during an important political race. Pinterest is reportedly well over 60 per cent female, and women can a tough audience for U.S. conservative candidates to win over. Assuming this is Mrs. Romney (more on that below), she’s gaining traction on Pinterest fast: she already has more than 3,000 followers.
However, when things start to go well for politicians on the social media front, some savvy user or three always emerges to satirize their efforts. Pinterest already has a “ Fake Mitt Romney” with a few hundred followers and some clever content, including a photo of a bottle of Pellegrino with this message “Have you ever taken a Pellegrino bath? It's like a jacuzzi, but you save money on electricity! We all have to do our part to protect the environment. Also my tub fits six people.”
Poking fun at Romney's riches is one of the defining criticisms of the putative Obama challenger. As reported by TechPresident.com, Think Progress created a Pinterest board to share photos of luxury hotels mentioned in Romney's 2012 campaign finance report, from The Breakers in Palm Beach to The Resort At Pelican Hill in California. While this board doesn't include all the hotels the candidate has stayed at during his campaign, it clearly displays that his operation is not short on money.
As Americans approach this fall's election, the digital race will no doubt heat up. From Obama participating in Google+ video chats and the First Lady tweeting, and the Romneys on Pinterest, the push for reblogs, pins, RTs, +1s and Likes is going to accelerate through October.
(Hat tip to ReadWriteWeb for spotting Mrs. Romney on Pinterest.)