With Twitter becoming indispensible for news and politics, the Washington Post has climbed aboard the speeding train, launching a new metric for tracking presidential candidates — @MentionMachine.
@MentionMachine monitors Twitter and other media outlets for the number of times a candidate is mentioned, thus tracking his or her position in the national conversation.
In other words, forget about the antiquated metrics like polling or endorsements and go straight to the source.
And if Twitter endorses a Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber ticket? So be it.
In introducing the new app, the Post showcases all the ways it can be used to evaluate how engaged readers are with certain candidates.
“Growth in number of legitimate followers or a high recurrence of retweets are both indicative of growing grass-roots support,” the Post notes. “A spike in the number of times a candidate is mentioned on Twitter might signal an event that could alter a campaign.”
How can the reader see whether a candidates is experiencing a surge of support? There’s a toolbar on its campaign coverage page to show “scores” for each candidate, with each score representing the number of times that candidate was mentioned on Twitter in the past week.
One can also go in depth on a specific candidate, looking at the progression of mentions over different time periods. And what good would it be without the ability to compare candidates?
This is not the first time the Post has put some of its eggs in the social media basket. It launched the "Social Reader" for the revamped Facebook, enabling users to read their post stories from their profile rather than having to hop over to the Post's site.
With its parent company coming off a ghastly fiscal year and an "uneasy" newsroom, these forward-looking measures have to help right?
At the very least, they could signal progress. With eight out of the top 10 most followed on Twitter being women, the era of a female president may be just around the corner.