Election Showdown: Facebook v. Twitter

The battle of the social networks continues, with Facebook and Twitter poised in opposite corners of the ring. But this time the fight’s not over total active users or ad sales. This time the competition is over election insights.

The battle, it seems, has turned to who’s got the better data, and who can present it in a more compelling way.

Earlier this week, CNN announced a new page on its site called Facebook & CNN Election Insights, which uses Facebook data to display the demographic information about who’s talking about each candidate. On the site, you can use filters to sort through various locations, ages, gender and time periods to see who’s talking about who.

Facebook’s efforts, however come on the heels of Twitter’s Political Index announcement at the beginning of the month. The Twitter Political Index, powered by Topsy, ranks each candidate on a sentiment scale of 1-100, with 100 being the most positive.

So who does have the better data, anyway?

Daniel Levine wrote in a post last week on SocialMediaToday about the ocean of Twitter information, and what we’re doing with it. He argues that the more people use a site, the more data is produced, and the more data that’s available to analyze. But up until now at least, in the battle of the social networks, Twitter has been more liberal about spreading the wealth of data to developers.

Sites like Topsy and Followerwonk, as well as Electionista and Tweetminster, all leverage Twitter’s API to make data digestible. Those sites allow the average tweeter to analyze what’s going on in the world of Twitter.

Facebook, on the other hand, opens their doors to app developers, but not so much to analytics junkies.

The elections insights move for both companies, however, seems to be an extension of the social media push during the Olympics.

It was during the XXX Olympics that the Facebook v. Twitter showdown began to come forward, with both sites releasing highly publicized featured pages for the Games. As a result, athletes, brands and social media platforms themselves saw huge growth. Nike alone gained almost 170,000 new Facebook fans, Twitter users sent out over 150 million tweets during the event, and there was significant publicized drama over athletes being dismissed from the Olympics and journalists accounts being temporarily closed.

All the while, Twitter and Facebook grew from 6 million to 140 million and 100 million to 900 million, respectively, since the last Olympics in 2008.

What does all of this mean? More data.

Now, with both social networks jumping into the election insights battle – in a very public manner – that data will be put to the test. We’ll see if social network data can be an effective predictor of election results.

Cast your vote for who has the better election data – or how you think social media data can be relevant in elections – in the comment section below.