On Twitter, there is a section on a user's profile which displays other Twitter accounts which might be similar (in terms of interests). It's a place meant to display other accounts a given Twitter user might enjoy following.
Recently (to my dismay), Twitter began selling space in this section, allowing accounts to actually pay in order to be placed at the top of the "Similar to" page.
And do you know who's buying? That's right: Mitt Romney.
As you might imagine, I was surprised to find Mitt atop my "Similar to David Harris-Gershon" box this morning. So surprised, in fact, that I failed to get a screen capture of the moment. Luckily, John Herrman of Buzzfeed – similarly surprised days ago – did just that.
Here's what it looks like to have Romney paying to tell Twitter users, Hey, I'm just like you. Really!
Needless to say, my immediate response was incredulity:
There have been reports in the past that Romney's campaign has been purchasing Twitter followers to boost the former Governor's profile appearance.
Holy hell. Twitter's now promoting (selling space) in the "Similar to ___" box. You know who's buying? @mittromney. No, we're not alike.— David Harris-Gershon (@David_EHG) September 26, 2012
Now it appears the campaign is attempting to accomplish the same goal by buying space that tells users, "Mitt is just like you."
Right – because nothing gets people to identify with a candidate more than paid-for ads that scream, "Identify with this candidate."
To expand on a comment I wrote, this snafu is no small matter, for it demonstrates just how misguided the Romney campaign is when it comes to using Twitter (and other social media).
This is no small matter.
Twitter, and tools like it, are essential to not only reaching a particular constituency, but broadening that constituency as well. These tools are no longer tertiary – they are becoming primary tools that must be used effectively for maximum potential to be reached.
Even Ambassador Rice recently spoke about how Twitter has become an integral part of her diplomacy.
The Romney campaign's failure to grasp how to use this correctly is no small matter. A matter the Obama campaign understands all too well.