The image of Mitt Romney on his Twitter account (Twitter)Even as the Republican National Convention viewership saw a steep decline compared with past years, Mitt Romney's acceptance speech set a number of milestones across social media.
"It's not always easy to sit in front of a TV and watch a convention unfold when you can watch it online, on demand or whenever you care to do so," Costas Panagopoulos, a Fordham University political science professor, told the Associated Press. "The changing media landscape has given people a chance to gather convention information relevant to them through social networks and other nontraditional sources."
Overall, the Nielsen Company estimates that 30.3 million viewers watched the Romney acceptance speech across the 11 networks that aired it. That's a 23 percent drop from 2008, when 39 million viewers tuned in to hear John McCain's national address.
However, traffic online tells a much different story.
Twitter says Romney's speech has been the most heavily tweeted news event of the year so far, generating some 14,300 tweets per minute. That pace narrowly beats President Obama's State of the Union address.
"You are no longer tethered to that screen in your living room or anywhere else—you can actively participate in these events while you're in line at the supermarket or waiting for the bus. It's incredibly transforming and freeing," said Adam Sharp, Twitter's director of government and news.
Last Thursday, Romney's official Twitter account passed a milestone, surpassing one million followers. "1 million active followers - thanks everyone for your support. Help us keep the momentum going," Romney tweeted.
The AP says the 2012 RNC has been one of the most discussed events on Facebook so far this year, drawing an especially large amount of attention from Facebook users over the age of 55. More than 5 million tweets were written about this year's RNC, compared with just 365,000 for both conventions combined in 2008.
Part of the reason conventional television numbers were down is because of the variety of online streaming options, which are not factored into the ratings. For example, YouTube's RNC channel received 2.8 million views alone. And some of the same networks broadcasting the convention coverage also carried online simulcasts.