BY NICK IRONSIDE // FEB. 23, 2012 //

An unprecedented political move that championed President Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008 is already being used heavily for the 2012 election.

Obama’s decision to make social media a priority of his last campaign paid sweet dividends. But how will his Republican opponents use social networking sites like Facebook, Google+ and Twitter to boost their chances of derailing the Democrat this November?

President Barack Obama

Former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney is already using campaign tactics similar to Obama’s from 2008. Romney’s idea to have followers post pictures of themselves on Facebook – “Stand with Mitt”  – with signs showing support for his campaign has already tapped into more than 1.4 million Facebook users.

A Fox News article reported that Facebook’s number of active users is eight times larger today (more than 800 million) than it was in August 2008. It also said that Twitter has gained more than 393 million more users within the last 14 months. These are obviously worldwide numbers, but the growth is still staggering.

One of the main ideas behind social media use in campaigns is that it will get young voters – people ages 30 and under – out to the polls when Election Day comes in November.

Despite performing a post-State of the Union Address interview exclusively on Google+ and YouTube, Obama is losing the group of voters that helped him parade triumphantly to Washington, D.C., in 2008. A recent Washington Examiner article reported that Obama’s approval rating among young voters has dropped 12 percent in the past two years.

To win back those voters, you can bet the Obama campaign will further pursue its social media strategy, reaching out to young people where they live and communicate. It’s a trend, and an election, worth following.

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