November 20, 2012 | By:

Social Media: The Massive Reach Of One Image

While many of us are well versed in the world of social media and all of the opportunities for instant information that it provides, none has been as large of a statement of social media’s massive reach as the photo of President Obama and his wife, Michelle, which was shared with the world on Twitter and Facebook after he was declared the winner of the 2012 United States Presidential Election. The photo, which shows the president and first lady sharing in a warm embrace, was retweeted more than 785,000 times, making it the most popular image in the brief history of the social network, according to The Economist. After Barack Obama was declared the winner of the presidency, Twitter peaked at 327,452 tweets per minute, a whopping 5,457 tweets per second, totaling 31 million total tweets for Election Day 2012.

As well as becoming the most seen image in the history of Twitter, the image also received more than 550,000 shares and 3.9 million likes on Facebook, making it the most popular image in the history of Facebook as well. According to CNN, with Twitter and Facebook combined, the image reached roughly five million on election night via direct social media interaction alone, not including those who saw the image on a social media outlet but did not share it in any way.

What do these numbers tell us? First, that social media has become one of the fastest ways to share any sort of information over the Internet. With a few clicks of a mouse or taps on a smart phone, an image, such as the one discussed, can reach an extremely large amount of people in a relatively short period of time. Secondly, the number of individuals who use social media outlets to obtain their information are quite large and should be, if they have not already, be noted by companies and individuals wishing to get information out to the public quickly and efficiently. Finally, that it is becoming regular practice for companies or individuals who use social media as a form of communication with their publics are increasingly using these outlets as the primary form of sharing information. The Obama Campaign acknowledged the presidential victory on Facebook and Twitter before an official email was sent out to the official campaign email list.

For businesses or individuals who have not yet embraced social media as a viable tool for communication between an organization and its publics, the recent example of the Obama campaign’s use of social media to share information is a good study on the potential for reaching an audience via social media outlets. While the number of people reached in this example are unique to the situation, the lessons learned can be applied to a variety of businesses and individual users who wish to strengthen their reach and influence among their publics.

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