Obama Facebook fans donate less, study finds

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
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The Obama campaign’s high level of social media penetration might not be directly translating into big-dollar donations, a new report suggests.

President Barack Obama’s Facebook fans are considered 2.5 times more likely to donate to his campaign, according to a report published Monday by comScore, a Virginia-based digital marketing intelligence firm.

Non-fans, however, are likely to donate more in terms of actual amount than his Facebook fans and their friends, said the report.

“Despite their higher likelihood of giving — as might be expected given their stated affinity for Barack Obama — they actually donated less on average ($18) than the other donor segment ($28),” said the report.

comScore explained that the younger demographic of the Obama’s social media fanbase accounted for the shortfall in donations from Facebook fans.

“While the fundraising itself is important to the campaign, there is an added benefit to simply getting donors to contribute any amount, however small, because it affirms their commitment to the campaign and makes them more likely to get out to the polls on election day and engage in candidate advocacy,” said the report.

“This finding suggests that social media may be a particularly effective channel in soliciting smaller donations from wider numbers of users.”

By contrast, Obama’s website was more popular among older voters.  Thirty-six percent of visitors to the president’s website were aged 55 and up, compared to 13 percent of visitors to Romney’s site.

comScore’s Media Matrix for the U.S. in March showed that BarackObama.com received 2.4 million unique U.S. visitors for the month, while MittRomney.com received only 281,000 unique U.S. visitors during the same timeframe.

The Center for Responsive Politics reported that as of March 31, the Obama campaign raised $191,671,860, and the Romney campaign raised $86,631,381.

In April Obama’s number of Facebook fans was approximately 16.3 times larger than presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s tally.

“Digital media has emerged over the past few election cycles as a formidable platform for political campaigns, providing the ability to efficiently target campaign messages and reach key voting constituencies at a fraction of the cost of traditional media,” said Andrew Lipsman, comScore’s vice president of industry analysis.

“Political blogs, online advertising and online fundraising have helped shape the past few elections, but 2012 will almost certainly be remembered as the ‘social media election’ given how central Facebook and Twitter have become to the current digital battleground,” said Lipsman.

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