Paul, Obama lead pack in Web 2.0 campaign efforts

Compete study measures time spent viewing videos or reading about candidates on social networks

If presidential elections were determined by the success of the Web 2.0 efforts of candidates, the leaders today would be Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

Both candidates have found much success in getting voters to view their videos on YouTube, their photos on Flickr and their profiles on MySpace, according to a new study released Monday by Internet research firm Compete Inc. The study set out to measure the time 2 million online users spent interacting with the candidates through MySpace, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and Meetup (a site for organizing groups) and candidate Web sites.

Paul led all the candidates in what Compete called "FaceTime," or the total time users spent viewing content about him on the Web 2.0 sites, with 167,760 total hours in October, according to Compete. Obama came in second with 86,548 hours, and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) rounded out the top three with 60,876 hours.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee posted 44,665 hours (92% more than he racked up in September), and former Sen. Fred Thompson had 21,719 hours. Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo and Chris Dodd were the least popular candidates online, with each posting less than 7,000 hours in October, according to the study.

Compete blogger Matt Pace noted that voters spent more time on Paul sites than all of the other Republican candidates combined. "Over a quarter of Paul's FaceTime occurred on Meetup, a testament to his supporters' determination to marshal their online momentum into offline action," Pace added.

"Aside from Ron Paul, Mitt Romney was the only other leading candidate from either party to get more than 40% of his total FaceTime on sites other than his official Web site in October. One area where Romney is leading all candidates is in the number of videos posted on YouTube; 452 at last count."

Mark Hopkins, a blogger at social networking site Mashable, blogged that the study did not measure online user interaction with blogs. However, he added that the study did tackle the question of whether or not social media has an effect on campaign results.

"I think it is safe to say we all suspected it did," he noted in the blog post. "Whether or not it will influence the vote has yet to be determined, but the empirical evidence seems to say that there is a direct relationship between the involvement and activity of the candidate's base and the amount of attention paid to that candidate by the general public."

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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