Election Day in the U.S. is fast approaching and it's anyone's guess who will win. However, is this really true? Based on five key indicators on the Internet, maybe we already know who will next be sitting in the Oval Office.
1. Site Traffic Winner: Obama
Barack Obama's site receives 5.5 million unique visitors, while John McCain's site receives 3.1 million, according to Compete data. While McCain has gained slightly in recent months, he hasn't made up much ground on Obama's 44 percent lead in this key metric. Alexa, another tracking tool, shows the same trend.
Business Nugget: Businesses should constantly monitor tools like Compete, Alexa, Hitwise, Nielsen, comScore, and the like to benchmark where they stand in relation to competition. Many of these tools have free and premium offerings.
2. Social Media Winner: Obama
McCain has garnered the support of 572,009 "fans" on Facebook, which is among the highest on the site. However, it pales in comparison to Obama's 2,071,473 fans. Obama's lead is even larger than this indicates because these numbers don't add in separate fan pages for Joe Biden, Michelle Obama, Students for Obama, Women for Obama, etc.
It's interesting that there aren't too many ancillary support pages like these for McCain. For example, Michelle Obama has 127,000 fans, while Cindy McCain has 758 fans. It's also intriguing that searches for Sarah Palin funnel to the McCain-Palin page, whereas Biden has his own distinct fan page. Unfortunately for the McCain ticket, their largest ancillary group is the rogue "I Have More Foreign Policy Experience than Sarah Palin," with 220,000 participants.
The "friend" divide is just as prevalent on MySpace with Obama having 697,535 friends to McCain's 169,326. McCain gets some help from Palin on MySpace where she has 81,988 friends on her profile to Biden's 27,652.
Business Nugget: As has been pointed out in this column for quite some time now, Facebook is dominating MySpace (in this instance by volume of fans/friends). Also of interest for businesses are the different strategies that must be decided upon in social media. If I'm Coke, do I funnel everyone to one fan page (i.e., McCain) or do I send those interested in the various brands (Diet Coke, Coke Classic) to unique fan pages (i.e., Obama).
3. Paid Search Winner: McCain
Republicans have been savvier on paid search throughout the election year. The most glaring example of this is if you type in the keyword "Presidential Election." Two listings come up for McCain in the sponsored listings, whereas Obama has zero.
The same holds true for the search term "vote." Shockingly, though, both parties fail to have a listing for the key phrase "register to vote."
Business Nugget: Paid search is mission critical to most businesses these days. However, many fail to do one basic thing: constantly manually check major key term results. With all the sophistication in paid search, businesses often get mired down in the details and miss major problems on the most important search terms.
4. Organic Search Winner: Tie
Of the five Internet items we selected to view, this one is the most intriguing. Let's use Google Insights to see what the public was searching on more: "McCain" or "Obama."
Over the last year for every search on "McCain," there have been 2.2 searches for "Obama." This ratio remains relatively constant if you only look at the last 90 and 30 days of data as well.
However, when you throw Palin into the mix, Palin searches way outperform McCain searches, and actually even outperform those of Obama. Hence, when you combine Palin and McCain, there are actually more searches than if you combine Obama and Biden.
This holds relatively true as you look at the battleground states of Ohio and Florida. In Florida on an indexed scale over the last 30 days, the searches broke down as follows: Palin (73), Obama (61), McCain (38), Biden (10). Part of that could be from people searching for videos of Tina Fey spoofing Palin on "Saturday Night Live." The national intrigue in Palin is something we've never seen and is difficult to account for.
Compete data shows that two of the top five search terms driving traffic to McCain's site include "Palin," whereas "Biden" doesn't show up in the top five search terms driving traffic to Obama's site.
Because of Palin's recent effect, call this one a tie instead of an Obama win, even though "Obama" has more than twice the amount of searches than "McCain."
Business Nugget: Smart corporations use Google Insights to help predict where their business may be going and what their users are interested it. Super smart corporations go one step further and drill down into geographic nuances.
5. YouTube Winner: Obama
The Barack Obama YouTube channel has 100,000 subscribers and the videos have been viewed 17.1 million times. The John McCain YouTube channel has 24,000 subscribers and has been viewed 11.1 million times. These numbers speak for themselves.
Business Nugget: Every business should have a dedicated brand channel on YouTube. Marketing departments should also keep an eye on what corporate and competitive videos are out there. YouTube Insights shows the number of views a video has on sites outside of YouTube (embedded) and identifies what parts of the video people don't find interesting. Also, we decided to call-out YouTube as it's own item, but it could have been rolled into social media.
These five Internet items are interesting to look at in an election context since the same methods of research and strategy can and should be used to build your company's brand.
Overall Internet Winner: Obama. But will it be enough to win the election?