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Did Obama Ride Gaga's Facebook Coattails?

BY Nancy Scola | Wednesday, July 7 2010

President Obama broke the 10 million fan mark on Facebook yesterday, a moment celebrated by Organizing for America, which manages the Obama Facebook account.
Chart showing the growth of Barack Obama's Facebook fans.

Barack Obama's coattails may have helped many a politician reach office in the 2008 elections. But when it came to yesterday's breaking of the 10 million fan mark on Facebook, the President of the United States may have been the lucky rider upon the coattails of one Stefani Germanotta, better known to the world as Lady Gaga.

Gaga's quest for 10 million Facebook followers has been much in the news lately, often in the context of a head-to-head competition with the President, and over this past July 4th weekend she became the first living person to hit that mark. (Michael Jackson holds the all-spectral/corporeal planes record with 14 million fans.) Obama hit the mark yesterday afternoon, a moment celebrated by Organizing for America, which handles the Obama Facebook profile, as you'll see above.

That's a remarkable two million-plus addition of Facebook fans for the President in about a month's time.

Or, another metric: of the 400 million people around the globe who are on Facebook, to use the company's provided numbers, a full one in 40 is now friends with the President of the United States. (Of course, the same can be said for Gaga.)

And it's worth noting that Barack Obama is, as far as Facebook goes, fantastically far more liked than the office he holds. The official White House account on Facebook is hovering at about 600,000 fans. And that popularity disparity trickles down. Take a recent wall post for example, noting that the Obama Administration would be holding an online interactive chat on the subject of the new HealthCare.gov today. When the White House posted it, the news got 465 "likes" and around 350 comments. When Obama did it, the nugget of administrative business was liked by more than 5,5000 people, and about 1,150 comments poured in. It's enough to make a White House feel bad about itself.

It's also something to make a once and presumably future presidential candidate feel good about himself. That's a 10 million-contact network that Obama has laying in wait for his re-election bid in 2010.

As a point of reference, the next most Facebook popular oft-mentioned presidential candidate is Sarah Palin, and she boasts 1.8 million friends.