In VP Pick, Social Media Has Hearty Laugh

This is no joke: humor is driving about half of the social sentiment regarding Paul Ryan.

In the second week after Mitt Romney announced Ryan as his choice for Vice President, almost half of all of the conversation on Twitter about Representative Ryan is expressed in the form of jokes, humor, sharing funny “memes,” and innuendo.  By using Crimson Hexagon’s ForSight™ social media monitoring and analytics tool, our analysis reaches beyond positive, negative, and neutral sentiments to detect the nuance of complex language, including humor.
Last week in this blog, we discovered surprising initial reactions among social media users to the announcement that Paul Ryan would join Mitt Romney on the Republican Presidential ticket this year.  Surprisingly, we found that Twitter users expressed “support” for the choice of Ryan because it promises to help Obama’s reelection efforts.  And, on the other hand, a small but vocal minority stated that they “opposed” the choice, because Ryan’s talents and political future would be better served by staying in the House of Representatives.
Last week, we also found that a good share of the conversation – at 22% of the social media conversation about Paul Ryan – was driven by humor.  This week, the proportion of the conversation that consists of jokes and 140 character “one-liners” has grown substantially, to 49% of the conversation.

What are the take-away ideas or messages from this new, surprising finding that so many people engage with politics in social media in the register of humor, rather than, say, serious or openly disdainful speech about politics and politicians?
Political campaigns and political media advisors should note that social media users in America like their politics mixed with witty quips, jokes, and wordplay.  In other words, many individuals engage with politics through humor, rather than using comedy to “tune out” from political messages or to simply disparage candidates.  In order to reach voters with a message that will resonate, political operatives should consider crafting campaign advertisements and direct contact with voters, as well as the candidates’ posture on the campaign trail, to comport with Americans’ taste for political satire and humor.
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