Political pundits will continue to argue about who won the second presidential debate between President Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney, but Romney has established himself as a clear winner in terms of meme generation. Only this time, it’s Obama himself that’s helping drive the meme with a promoted tweet referencing Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” comment from Tuesday night's debate.
Within minutes of Mitt Romney’s first claim that he brought “binders full of women” to his cabinet in Massachusetts, the phrase immediately took over major social media channels on Tuesday night, sparking several websites and Tumblr pages along the way.
Twitter first introduced the promoted tweets feature earlier this year as a way to help small businesses without traditional marketing budgets advertise across its popular social media channels. But since then, the service has expanded to include essentially any company or public figure eager to pay to put their message on top of Twitter's viral food chain. The costs of the service are variable depending on the number of users a customer pays Twitter to put the message in front of and which type of of promotion they choose -- either promoting on the general newsfeed that runs down a user's homepage, or paying to have the term on top of keyword search. However, Twitter says that Promoted Trends are offered for a flat fee in the high tens of thousands of dollars per day.
"Promoted Tweets are priced on a Cost-per-Engagement (CPE) basis, so you only pay when someone retweets, replies to, clicks or favorites your Promoted Tweet," Twitter's advertisement page says. "In addition, impressions on Retweets are free and can extend the reach and cost-effectiveness of your campaign many times over."
Twitter adds that "campaigns requiring FEC-compliant notices will feature a purple promoted icon at the bottom of the Promoted Tweet. The disclaimer appears when a user hovers over the Promoted Tweet."
Obama's campaign, which already proved its web-friendly political acumen when it put the President in front of the vast Reddit community, swooped in on the keywords "binders full of women" themselves, understanding the volume of Twitter messages and searches could only continue to increase exponentially in the days following Tuesday night's debate.
Now, when Twitter users search “binders full of women,” the message that remains on top of the voluminous search results is from the Obama campaign itself.
“Mitt Romney still won’t say whether he’s stand up for equal pay,” Obama’s tweet reads, but he did tell us he has ‘binders full of women.”
After the first presidential debate, Mitt Romney set off a similar flurry of internet memes centered around his “Big Bird” comment including an @FiredBigBird Twitter account.
In each of these cases, Obama has pounced on the opportunity to expose the potential embarrassment of his opponent’s gaffes. But for better it worse, Romney himself still commands the meme-generation machine two debates in.