Obama vs. Zuckerberg: Who Won the Battle of the Buzz?

fb-obamaInternet users had a prime chunk of live programming to tune into online Wednesday afternoon.

At 1 p.m. ET, Facebook aired a live stream of a product announcement from Mark Zuckerberg. At 2 p.m. ET, U.S. President Barack Obama took questions from the Twittersphere during Twitter’s first ever live-streamed town hall.

So when one of the world’s most powerful companies and one of the world’s most powerful countries hold back-to-back Internet events, who gets more attention?

By several web measurements, Zuckerberg out-buzzed Obama yesterday afternoon.

According to an analysis by Jive Social Media Engagement, Twitter users tweeted the word “Facebook” about 3 million times during Zuckerberg’s announcement, but tweeted the word “Obama” or “askobama” about 650,000 times during the Twitter town hall event. When the terms in the analysis were tweeked to be more specific and include more phrases (i.e. town hall or townhall), Facebook’s event still garnered about three times the tweets as Obama’s Twitter event.

Data from real time search engine Topsy reveals a similar trend (see graph below). Its analysis includes tweets with a link and retweets with a link.

Social curation company, Mass Relevance, a partner of Twitter’s, counted 169,395 tweets that used the hashtag #AskObama between the time that Twitter announced the town hall on June 30 and Wednesday evening. At its highest traffic point, about 55,000 were viewing Facebook’s one-hour-long live stream. Twitter didn’t make this stat visible for the town hall.

Google searches yesterday afternoon, as documented by Google Trends, also seem to have been dominated by “Facebook news” and “Facebook announcement.” Meanwhile, Obama’s Town Hall didn’t breach the top 10 trends during the event.

None of these indicators are perfect statistics. But the fact that they all favor the Facebook announcement as the more popular discussion topic is worth noting.

To be fair, Facebook has more than twice the number of users ( about 750 million) scattered over the world than the United States has citizens (about 300 million). But the majority of Twitter users reside in the U.S., and Obama’s outlook arguably carries more weight for most of the world’s population.

We’re not sure what to make of the web’s apparently greater interest in Mark Zuckerberg. On some levels it makes sense that online conversations would be more likely to center around Facebook’s next product than a presidential appearance: Facebook exists entirely on the Internet while the president of the United States has most of his influence elsewhere.

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