With 2012 political campaign costs reaching into the billions, it’s crucial for candidates to take advantage of the low-cost tools that social media provides.

Recently a study performed by Dr. Ciaran McMahon revealed that being active on social networks like Twitter and Facebook can lead to more votes.

The Associated Press took a look at how the Presidential candidates are using Twitter to promote campaigns. President Obama currently leads with more than 10 million followers, but those with lower follower counts shouldn’t be counted out.

Currently Herman Cain has just under 200,000 followers, and yet many of his tweets have been retweeted more than 100 times. It’s important to note that at the time of the AP’s investigation, Cain had only 579 tweets; 144 of which had been retweeted more than 100 times.

Although initial outreach might look limited, retweets are a powerful feature that drive messages to additional audiences that TV or billboard campaigns might not reach.

The candidates are also experimenting with different messaging strategies. For example, Mitt Romney’s tweets are relatively safe, while Jon Huntsman tweets controversial statements. It isn’t clear yet how messaging has affected social media growth.

Social networks offer incredible reach and many members are heavily engaged by political messages. While the pressure is on to reach as many potential voters as possible, it’s important for candidates to take advantage of its advertising opportunities and establish a presence on social media platforms..

[Via: All Twitter, Image credit: Daniel Parks]