It’s that time again as the 2010 Mid-Term Elections took place today. This year has been an especially buzzed about campaign season as more candidates then ever turned to social media to drive their campaigns. As I’ve said before, social media continues on the rise. More and more people have not only realized the power social media has in the digital world, but understand the importance of jumping on board. What better way for candidates to reach out to people for their vote then through social media outlets.
Many people believe that Obama’s social media presence during the 2008 Presidential Election can be credited largely to his win. By election day he had gained more than 2 million followers on Facebook and over 100,000 on Twitter. It has already been suggested that the Republicans may win majority in tomorrows Congressional vote as their social media presence is much stronger. With the explosive growth of social media over the past few years it is no surprise that it would play an important role in politics. Who knows maybe it will even replace telephone polls and surveys some day in the near future.
According to a publication on the Social Media in the 2010 Election 98% of Democrats and 95% of Republican of the House have official Facebook Fan Pages and 95% Republicans to 93% Democrats on the Senate have Fan Pages. Just thing, five years ago I bet a majority of these politicians didn’t even have a clue what Facebook was.
Candidates are utilizing everything from Facebook and Twitter to YouTube Channels to get brand themselves and raise money for their campaigns. As more and more people turn to the web to research candidates the opportunity for the candidates to reach them increases. I’ve stumbled across some candidates who have running Google Adwords campaigns and others with Facebook Ads. Many of the candidates are also linking all of their social media profiles together. For example on their Facebook page is a link to their Twitter and official website and at the end of a video on their YouTube Channel their may be the URL of a link directing viewers to donate. Facebook and Twitter, where the general public can comment, post, retweet etc. give them a sense of personal connection with the candidate and that’s what voters are looking for when they hit the poles. They want to vote for someone they feel they have a connection with. Keeping that in mind I think it’s crucial for candidates to take the time to respond to comments and tweets.. Justin Amash, who’s running for Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District, uses his Facebook page to post what he’s recently voted on and why he voted that way. He even replies to comments and updates all his posts himself. I think a big part of a candidates job is to directly interact with his/her constituents and Amash does just that.
Even though Facebook Fan Pages, Twitters and YouTube Channels may not be the most precisely targeted campaign tools, they are allowing candidates to reach a huge amount of people, create an ongoing buzz and even promote word of mouth. Engaging with such a vast digital audience will not only attract supporters from the candidate’s area, but also people in surrounding districts that can help pass along the word or even donate if they’d like. The downside to this though is that they can’t vote for that candidate not in their district. This tends to make campaigning a bit difficult as it’s hard to determine if the candidate is spending too much time on people who in the end can’t vote for them. It’s all a toss up.
*A side not for the politicians: Social media is easy, quick, real time, has the ability to reach the masses and allows the public to interact with you. BUT a strong media presence doesn’t always mean digital followers will turn into voters…like I said, the targeting is a toss up.
But for now, any political would be in the stone age if they didn’t utilize social media to some extent.