Social media managers, take note. This is how you protect your brand.
The incumbent candidate always has a media advantage in a presidential election, but this week, with 15,000 or so reporters in Tampa, Fla., for the Republican National Convention, Barack Obama's exploits were second fiddle to the nomination fanfare for Mitt Romney. Throughout the three days and nights, Republicans had the floor and the ears of the media, which produced some memorable and party-strengthening speeches.
Yet on the last night of the convention, only minutes before Mitt Romney's hallmark nomination speech, actor Clint Eastwood sent the Internet and pundit community into a frenzy with an unusual speech that included an empty chair and an imaginary, invisible President Obama.
The media and politicos will debate whether the performance was a legitimate distraction from the important speeches that followed, but the Web made up its mind immediately, causing a rash of memes and homemade pictures of people gesturing at empty chairs. The meme was immediately bestowed its own hashtag: #eastwooding.
The moment was, during a week of meticulously crafted and tightly controlled events, an unexpected vulnerability for the GOP, and the Obama campaign capitalized. Without any formal statement or outright mocking, the president's official Twitter account tweeted just three words and a picture of the president in a placquered chair.
The tweet came roughly an hour after Romney's speech ended and as the Internet's political chattering class took to the Web to rehash and pick apart the nuances of the night. Within 20 minutes, it was retweeted over 5,000 times and less than three hours after its posting, it garnered a remarkable 20,000 retweets.
Now, while some may dismiss the maneuver as a snarky jab, social media managers everywhere will admire the rapid response, which was placed perfectly to go viral across the Web. In an unending election cycle with amazing social media dexterity on both sides, the Obama campaign has set the new standard for injecting itself into the social conversation.
We'll see what the Romney camp has up its sleeve next week during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.