Analysis: GOP needs to wake up to President Obama's dominance online

Big news of the week seems to be the Team Obama has now discovered yet another social media platform that they can dominate: the rapidly growing and expanding Pinterest platform.

For the Republicans, the story is getting increasingly desperate. It’s pretty clear from this week’s numbers that the rate of growth online across the board for the Republican candidates is slowing dramatically.

My sense is that all of the infighting and bickering is taking its toll on an electorate that has grown tired of these brands and the ongoing rhetoric between the candidates. Anyone sitting over at the Republican National Committee looking at these numbers and seeing something more positive than I do has probably drunk too much of the Kool-Aid. 

The last remaining Republicans are being propped up by a media constituency that is desperate for a continuing soap opera, not a real election cycle. It’s readily apparent that the Republican Party has little regard for fighting a good fight to win back the White House. I see nothing anywhere that leads me to believe that there will be any magical strategy or formula that will reverse the trends that we are seeing right now. In fact, the Obama camp is showing signs of gaining strength despite all of the rumblings about the potential of ObamaCare being struck down by the Supreme Court.  The re-election team for Barack Obama is hitting on all cylinders and an online cohort is being assembled that will provide the President with his second term.

I watch with great disdain as one Republican pundit after another makes the rounds of Fox News and other media platforms railing against the President and his policies. One would think from this rancor that the election is going to be very close.  We are all being duped and lulled into a false sense of security. Everyone on the network side likes programming where the perception is nip and tuck…close games, tight competitions. Such intensity drives viewers to these broadcasts. No one is tuning in to watch a blowout. So it is with the numbers this week online. At a time when a Republican candidate should be surging, there is still slugging going on for the cameras.

If any of the candidates believe that all of this is helping any Republican win the White House, they need to have their heads examined.  Where is the online marketing strategy to compete with Team Obama? It is nonexistent.  Where are all of those campaign dollars going?  Trust me–it won’t even be close when it’s time to run that roadblock of TV ads this fall. Here’s the latest data. Read it and worry.

Facebook Friends

Mitt Romney – 1,551,169 – UP 10,009
Ron Paul – 924,249 – UP 7526
Newt Gingrich – 296,333 – UP 37
Rick Santorum – 187,342 – UP 3,274
President Barack Obama – 25,879,506 – UP 146,902

•    Mitt Romney –Mitt’s Facebook page has gone stale again and his performance shows it.  It has been a down week for Romney online. His rate of growth as with the other candidates in the race has dropped off dramatically. With the Wisconsin primary coming April 3, Romney needs to start acting Presidential soon, or he won’t be any sort of a respectable contender.

•    Ron Paul – Ron’s online team needs to merge with Romney’s team after all of the battling is over in the next week or so. Throughout this race, Paul has done an admirable job of building an online community and growing it. Romney is going to need a major injection of enthusiasm and online knowledge; my sense is that Romney’s team can learn a great deal from the Ron Paul team’s mechanics and success.

•    Newt Gingrich –Newt really needs to leave the race and fade to black. His performance within Facebook this week is insulting to his image as a viable candidate. Only the bright lights of the cameras and a desire in the media for someone who makes outrageous sound bites from time to time would keep a candidate like Newt in the game.  There is honor in knowing when to fold the tent and go home to support the inevitable nominee.  That moment for Newt was weeks ago. The longer he stays in, the more damage is being done to his personal brand and that of the party.

•    Rick Santorum – Wisconsin may be Rick’s swan song; like Newt, he has had his moment in the spotlight. He has made his point very clear about the differences between himself and Mitt Romney. I have a sense that we will see his words turned against Mitt in the fall via Team Obama commercials. Here again, Santorum needs to preserve his own brand to fight another day and learn from the mistakes made in marketing and community building. He too would benefit from a crash course in Internet Marketing. 

Twitter Followers

Newt Gingrich – 1,451,308 – UP 1,732
Ron Paul – 416,577 – UP 6805
Mitt Romney –  398,969  UP 12,977
Rick Santorum – 182,681 – UP 8,004
President Barack Obama – 13,489,517 – UP 345,742

•    Newt – Becoming a non-issue here.  His best bet for the good of the party would be to start embracing the nominee and helping the Republican Party regain the White House. He could do a lot of good reaching out to that nice universe of followers and inspiring them to do the right thing. My sense is that he won’t.  He suffers from an incurable case of self-righteousness regardless of data that shows him totally lagging the field.

•    Ron Paul–continues to show consistent growth week in and week out. Never a real media darling or considered a serious contender, Ron Paul has defied conventional wisdom and has built for himself a nice base and foundation to be reckoned with.

•    Romney out front – Solid week for Mitt on Twitter. The biggest problem here is that he needs to do a heck of a lot better in building the size of his base if he is going to be seriously considered in the race against the President. My sense is that the marketing team in the Romney camp may be a group of legacy campaign folks who know very little about the Internet. Note to Mitt – it’s time that you pivot your campaign with online at the core and make television a supplemental component of your strategy. Take a look at Obama’s numbers!

•    Santorum Up Again – Rick had a solid growth this week, but like the other candidates ; the competitor; President Obama is destroying the field in terms of growth. As Rick battles his fellow Republicans , the data documents that Barack Obama is getting the real benefit from all of this ruckus. If Rick were smart and really cared about the Republicans winning the White House, he would stop now and support the a candidate that can be elected.

It’s highly likely that next week’s column will run under a headline: “Time to get to work”. I truly believe that after Wisconsin Mitt Romney will be the de facto Republican nominee for the White House.  As much fun as it has been monitoring the online performance of the gang of candidates, I must tell you that it has grown tiring repeating the same advice each week. It is my sense that no one with any authority or chops to change anything is listening.  We have identified the problem repeatedly. The data is crystal clear. The trend line is verifiable.  Some of you reading the column would like to discount the data and/or the analysis. You question method and motives. That is your right.

What you cannot dispute is that Team Obama is totally outclassing the Republican field in the area of online and social marketing.  As they showcase their strategy and tactics, the return on their investment is crushing the Republican competition .These are metrics that I have studied my entire career. Any brand that has this level of domination online, this early in a brand war would have to commit the most heinous of mistakes in order to lose share.  I see no signs that the competing brands in this race have any desire, strategy or tactics that will reverse this trend.

I hope I am wrong. Hope, though, isn’t a strategy.