Adam Sharp, Head of Government, News and Social Innovation at Twitter, is calling the 2012 presidential race “the Twitter election.” Given the plethora of digital ways of connecting and pulse-taking, it should more accurately be called the 2012 Socialection.
Let's start with Sharp's employer, which today announced its new sentiment analysis tracking of its users. The new Twitter Political Index is a social Gallup Poll, taking the daily pulse on users’ feelings towards the two candidates between now and November 2nd. Each candidate’s Index will be updated daily after 8 p.m. ET capturing the day’s trending conversations along with an historical chart, while partner Topsy will be posting its daily analysis, and USA Today has created the USA Today/Twitter election meter to run through the election.
“More Tweets are sent every two days today than had ever been sent prior to Election Day 2008 — and Election Day 2008’s Tweet volume represents only about six minutes of Tweets today,” Sharp blogged. “For the first time, it’s possible to measure conversations that just an election cycle ago were limited to coffee shops, dinner tables and water coolers.”
Twitter has also retained two polling groups, the left-leaning Mellman Group and more conservative NorthStar Opinion Research for the so-called Twindex. “It’s scale of the data that makes this project so powerful," writes BuzzFeed's Matt Buchanan. "With Topsy's access to the full Twitter firehose, it's processing 400 million tweets a day in real-time. To compare, on Election Day 2008, there were 1.8 million tweets. There are that many tweets every six minutes today.”
Or as AP reporter Barbara Ortutay wrote, “bursts of Twitter activity are like gamma rays escaping from a solar flare. They're impossible to stop and spellbinding to behold."
Over at Google, “Four Screens to Victory” was announced earlier this year as a framework for political campaigns advertising on YouTube.
“Access to political information no longer comes from one place — or one screen. In just the four years since the last presidential election, the continued growth of the web and the proliferation of mobile devices has radically transformed when, where, and how voters access political information," blogged David Kaufman of Google's Politics and Elections team.
Google's statistics corroborating this:
• More than 80% of eligible voters are online
• 83% of mobile phone owners are registered voters
• 1 out of every 3 likely voters in November say that they didn’t watch TV in the past week
• Voters are spending more media time on their mobile devices than newspapers & magazines combined.
YouTube became the standard for online video once it solved free content hosting, created an easily-embeddable player, and amassed a massive user base. Now SoundCloud, the largest music-sharing community since MySpace “wants to be that standard," writes Andrew Phelps of Harvard's Nieman Journalism Lab. "Think of it as an aspiring YouTube for public radio.”
Since its founding in 2007, SoundCloud has attracted an audience of 20 million registered users and a $50 million investment round in January, through its “freemium” model that charges heavier users for extra storage capacity and deeper analytics.
In this latest initiative to “unmute the web,” the company hired Jim Colgan, a digital innovator for WNYC public radio, to oversee partnerships with radio news professionals, podcasters, and indie storytellers.
“In our outreach…we highlight that if you’ve got great audio, appreciate it for what it is,” commented Manolo Espinosa, SoundCloud’s head of audio, to Phelps. “It does not need to have an overlay of a video container. It doesn’t have to have a separate experience. … You don’t have to have a stock video image of a tape player or a microphone on there. The audio stands by itself.”
Producers from L.A.-based KPCC and KCRW, North Carolina’s WUNC, St. Louis Public Radio, and (newly relaunched) CNN Radio are uploading to the site while Boston’s WBUR and WGBH program The World now use SoundCloud’s player, but a major challenge remains attracting commercial outlets, as the brand doesn’t offer built-in options for advertising or any monetization.
All that's needed is the ability to vote on social media and the (election) cycle will be complete.