Romney digital director: User engagement on social media trumps quantity of followers

Moffatt took issue with the findings of a recent study published by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism that said Obama's reelection team was leading the Romney campaign in social-media activity. He argued that measuring how many people are talking or sharing a campaign's digital content with their friends on social media is a more accurate metric than the number of followers a candidate has or the quantity of digital content a campaign publishes.

Representatives from Facebook, Twitter and Google also echoed that message.

Adam Sharp, senior manager for Twitter's government and news team, illustrated that point by noting that the famous picture of the US Airways plane landing on the Hudson River was tweeted by a Twitter user with just 33 followers.

"Follower count is not the driving metric for campaigns or for anyone," Sharp said.

"Sharing is a powerful sentiment. You're in a sense becoming a broadcaster," said Daniel Sieberg, a spokesman for Google's Politics and Elections team. "That's an amazing opportunity for people to have in this election cycle no matter what tool they're using."

Social media platforms are also powerful tools for persuasion during elections. Katie Harbath, a public policy manager at Facebook, said Facebook users are 57 percent more likely to get friends out to vote.

While building engagement on social media is one concern for campaigns, another is how to reach out to the growing number of Americans that don't watch live TV.

Moffatt said roughly one-third of the American electorate are considered "off the grid" and do not watch live TV other than sporting events. For example, he noted that his mother records the ABC comedy "Modern Family" rather than watching it live on prime-time TV, and that she fast forwards through the commercials during the sitcom. 

"As a result, you're always going to have to look for new ways to get into people's stream of [consciousness]," Moffat said. "If you don't try to have conversations on these [social media] platforms, you will miss these people."

One way to reach out to these voters is through online advertising, an area the Romney campaign has invested in, according to Moffatt. Another is by sharing online video, which is viral in nature and therefore has a large reach.

The Republican Party has dubbed the 2012 Republican convention as "the convention without walls." The representatives for Twitter, Google and Facebook noted that this is the first time Americans at home will be able to view the convention through the perspective of the delegates and people on the ground in Tampa.

"Everyone has a phone now where you can take some really good pictures," Harbath said. "It's giving you a behind the scenes experience that's not the campaign."

Google will be streaming the convention live on YouTube. There will also be Google+ hangouts where people at home can participate in the convention events via their mobile devices.