A Social Media Comparison Between Giffords’ Shooting and Weiner’s Exposure

Weiner’s Twitter Following Surpasses 80,000

Comparing the tragedy and devastating shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the [wiki]sexting[/wiki] scandal media fury that’s been dubbed “Weinergate” over Congressman Anthony Weiner’s seems almost offensive with the only thin thread of comparison being the two happened to be in the U.S. House of Representatives.

However, both have incorporated Twitter and other social media:[unordered_list style=”tick”]

  • Rep. Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords used a Twitter account prior to the shooting in Tucson, AZ, and her staff maintained it since at @Rep_Giffords
  • Rep. Giffords’ husband, NASA Shuttle Commander [wiki]Mark Kelly (astronaut)[/wiki], tweeted updates on her conditions following the shooting from his account at @ShuttleCDRKelly
  • By now, everyone is familiar with what Rep. Anthony Weiner has been sexting and privately tweeting from his Blackberry and @RepWeiner account

[/unordered_list]As Rep. Giffords’ office released the first photos of her following the devastating shooting and recent reconstructive shooting and as tabloid television releases more provocative photos of Rep. Weiner’s hairless body from the private Congressional gym, I grew curious about how social media reacted. The following chart from TwitterCounter.com with some of my notations illustrates what I found:

On Jan. 7, 2011,  interestingly enough, all three were largely in the same range with the astronaut Mark Kelly leading the pack as most popular. Immediately following the Jan. 8 shooting, @Rep_Giffords saw the most immediate, drastic jump with @ShuttleCDRKelly more gradual.

@RepWeiner saw steady growth and, as his stature at the national level grew, so did that following. By the time of the beginning of Weinergate, his Twitter following totals were just behind the astronaut’s.

Now Weiner’s surpassed them both and crossed the 80,000 threshold.  If this trend keeps up, @RepWeiner could see 100,000 followers by the end of June. If he resigns or leaves office, I am curious to see if it will cause his following to increase more rapidly or decrease the rate.

While there may be some level of disgust at the thought that what’s basically a cyber-flasher has a greater following than a woman almost killed and fighting for her life, don’t despair too much. Rep. Giffords still maintains a straight up numbers lead of about 10,000 followers and, if you factor in those following her husband, as many as 45,000 (although there’s probably a significant overlap between those accounts).

In percentage, the comparison makes Rep. Weiner look tiny as he approaches doubling his pre-controversy following. Rep. Giffords now has almost eight times the followers she did prior to that horrific day in Tucson and Commander Kelly earned more than five times the followers.

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Michael Cheek

With more than 20 years of communication experience, Michael Cheek offers solid marketing expertise, especially in the digital frontier. He currently resides in Georgia but he's open to relocate anywhere the opportunities take him. Learn more at http://MichaelCheek.com. You can follow him on Twitter at http://Twitter.com/MichaelCheek and see more about his professional experience at http://LinkedIn.com/in/MichaelCheek. Reach him via e-mail at mcheek@gmail.com.

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