Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Social Media Political Campaigning

On election day one of my friends called me as she was leaving her last class around 7:30 p.m.

"All these people keep asking me if I voted," she said.

"Well did you?"


I was shocked. I wasn't even sure what to say. Her excuse to me was that she didn't know what she was voting for. Still shocked. Better clarification: she didn't know who all the candidates were and what their stances were. Slightly less shocked.

To her credit I agree that uninformed voters probably shouldn't vote. I was eligible to vote in the 2006 midterms but didn't because of that same reason. But there's a big difference between the two elections in question...Facebook.

The first semester of my freshman year I hadn't quite jumped on the Facebook bandwagon yet. Even if I had, candidates hadn't figured out how to use the social network to their advantage. But since Obama and his social media magic, candidates see the full benefits of Facebook.

My friend who didn't vote qualifies as a Facebook stalker. She likes my pictures before I've finished putting them up. She knows the intricacies of the lives of people we went to middle school with. Had she used her Facebook hunting powers for good instead of evil, she easily could've been informed enough to make a decision.

I looked at Tom Barrett's page for example. His wall gives you direct links to events he's attending (or supporting), articles that have been written about him (usually positive) and T.V. spots as they air. You can see what people, organizations and causes Barrett supports through his favorite pages.

I wanted to see just how far the political campaign social networking integration has come so I checked Tammy Baldwin and Russ Feingold's Facebook pages. I also tried to look at all three candidates Twitter feeds.

While Barrett's camp posts on Facebook multiple times a day, it doesn't look like he has a Twitter page. Baldwin has a Facebook page but uses it very infrequently and she doesn't have a Twitter page. Feingold posted on his Facebook just as often as Barrett and had a Twitter feed that may have went away after the election. I wonder if the fact that Baldwin held her seat and used social media the least is evidence that our cohort didn't vote.

In terms of Facebook use I have one suggestion. At most, seven of my friends liked a candidates page. I assume that the other thousands of people who liked their pages took the initiative to seek out the candidates Facebook pages and like them. It might have been a good idea to have someone send out an invitation to like their pages.


  1. I agree completely. On Facebook I get handfuls of groups to join and events to attend sent to me, however, for the election, there was not one group or event invitation that I received. I believe that if the politicians created groups and events, and established a more personal connection with individuals, influencing their potential voters on a more intimate level, finding the voters instead of just waiting for the voters to find them... more people would have been influenced and in turn, mobilized to vote.

  2. I agree that invitations to 'like' politicians would be a good idea, but I also think it's hard for Page owners to break through to their targets. Facebook limits the amount of contact Pages can have with their fans, so it will be interesting to see in the next few years how certain brands find ways to get around that.