Election night proves symbiotic relationship between social media and TV

By Alex Weprin 

Never before in an election has the relationship between social media and television been more apparent. On television last night, as the results rolled in, tweets from politicians, analysts and celebrities found their way to the screen. On social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, people called out the results as quickly as the TV networks announced them.

According to Twitter, there was a clear correlation between the television calls and activity on the service. When the networks called the election for President Obama at 11:19 PM, 327,452 tweets were sent per minute, including this one from the President, already the most-retweeted post of all time.

According to Facebook’s “Facebook + Journalists” page, at 11:30 PM, after all of the networks called the election for Obama (ABC was the straggler), users started turning to phrases like “Obama wins” and “Four more years” in their posts.

On television, networks cited social media to highlight comments from prominent people. The most notable moment came from NBC’s Brian Williams, who cited tweets from Romney supporter Donald Trump.

“Donald Trump, who has driven well past the last exit to relevance and peered into something closer to irresponsible here, is tweeting tonight,” Williams said during last night’s coverage, mocking Trump’s hyperbolic calls for revolution after Romney lost.

Will.I.Am, who famously appeared as a “hologram” during CNN’s 2008 coverage, brought it full circle last night, taking to Twitter to talk to CNN:


Social media existed in previous elections, bet never before was it as integral a part of the conversations it was last night. Calls on TV changed the conversation on social media, while conversations online trickled onto the TV sets. The water cooler is now big enough for the world to gather around, and media coverage of future elections will never be the same.