When President Obama won his first election four years ago, it was widely reported that he used social media (especially Facebook) to help gain the momentum and the votes he needed to win. From that point on, it should have been a given that all future political candidates put full utilization of social media high on their list of strategic tools as they run their campaigns.

Back in January, I wrote an article talking about the fact that social media has grown in both size and influence since the last presidential election, and there are now many powerful social media tools available to candidates. Therefore, having an integrated approach that leverages multiple sites, with a special focus on the biggest players including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, would provide a very important strategic advantage.

Now that we all know that President Obama has won re-election with a decisive victory, let’s look at how each candidate used social media and see if there are any differences.

As of election night, President Obama had 32 million Facebook fans, 21 million Twitter followers, and 259,685 YouTube views.

On the other hand, Mitt Romney had 12 million Facebook fans, 1.7 million Twitter followers, and only 29,172 YouTube views.

Clearly the Obama team knew the importance of social media as a tool and did a much better job of using it to create both influence and action.

Some might say that Mitt Romney didn’t have the four years President Obama had to build a social media following.  But if you look at how fast a following can be built, especially by people who get prime media attention, it’s clear that time is not a big factor. And when you look at the advertising budgets both candidates had, money clearly was not an issue.

The biggest problem for Mitt Romney and his team was not making an integrated social media strategy a strategic priority. If it had been a priority, the election may have ended very differently.

Did social media make a difference in the outcome of the election? When you have a close race, everything matters. So with that in mind, I would answer yes.

Please share your thoughts.