Ever wonder if social media could be more than just a conversation or a way to break news instantly? Have you ever seen just how much of an impact it can have outside of the PR and advertising world or the realm of celebrity and gossip news?
Have you ever wondered what power social media might have in say, politics? Now I’m not just referring to incidents like Tehran and Egypt – where countless citizens found ways to use social media to spread their messages, but what about the idea of using social media to predict major political events, like the 2012 presidential election in the United States, for instance.
The reason I bring this up is partially due to the fact that this fall I’m taking a new class at my university called “Social Media & the 2012 Election,” which will discuss how each candidate, their parties and supporters are using social media, analyzing and critiquing their every move, and learning how their strategies worked or how they could be improved in the future by other candidates.
I started thinking about social media and politics even more recently when I heard about Twitter Government/@gov, Twitter’s own account run by their “Government & Politics team”. With 136,633 followers, Twitter’s Government & Politics team promises to track creative and effective uses of Twitter for civic engagement, claiming that all RTs and examples aren’t political endorsements. As part of this new political initiative, Twitter also created Twindex (The Twitter Political Index), which is meant to take the company’s data on each candidate found across the social network and constantly rank the presidential candidates based on popularity.
Twitter’s goal with Twindex is to be faster and more accurate on voter opinions than traditional polling by using volume measurements and sentiment analysis to determine a poll score for each candidate. They’re not sure of the accuracy of Twindex polling just yet, but the we’ll see if it proves accurate enough on election day! What do you think about Twitter Government and Twindex, any value in it? Here’s a little video from Slate that talks more about Twindex, Twitter’s Presidential Popularity Contest, to give you a better overview of how the process works.
In addition to Twitter’s own political initiatives surrounding the 2012 Presidential Election, the presidential candidates themselves are taking social media by storm. In 2008, Barack Obama proved just how powerful social media could be in gaining the youth vote, and now in 2012, it’s becoming an even more powerful and personal way to reach certain voting groups – whether they be latinos, women, or again, the youth of America. As a not so secret supporter of Obama, I follow his Twitter account, Facebook pages for his overall reelection, for women who support Obama, and for Pennsylvania and New York supporters (ironic since I’m actually from New Jersey), his Instagram account (which has FANTASTIC photos from the campaign, just sayin’) and the Twitter accounts for Michelle Obama, VP Biden, Obama2012, and other supporter groups of the current President. In terms of consistency, the Obama camp’s got it down – every Twitter page of members of his team (whether it be Michelle or Biden) have identically designed pages, each with simple branding and a clear message – just the way I like it, clean and simple design.
If we hop over to the Republican camp, with old Mitt Romney, we see a few interesting things. The very first social media type of feature I saw added to the Romney campaign recently is this buzz app they developed called Mitt’s VP, a way to really draw attention to the selection of his Vice Presidential Running mate. It’s an interesting scheme that might win him a lot of PR buzz and some loyalty from voters, on account of the fact that those who download the app will be the first to find out who he’s selected to be his running mate.
In addition to his shiny new app, the Mitt Man’s got plenty of social media to pack a punch too. Unlike the Obama Campaign, Mitt’s flying solo – on his Twitter page he doesn’t list any supporting accounts like Obama and his supporters do in their Twitter backgrounds.
Just based on appearances so far, Barack Obama is winning by a landslide – better designed social media accounts, and widespread social media usage – he’s covered all his social bases, not to mention he even has a Facebook page for supporters in every state – not to shabby, eh? What do you think about the candidate’s social media campaigns? Don’t let me bias you, I’d love to hear your thoughts on how each candidate is doing on the social media scale, feel free to comment below and let me know your thoughts!
Until next time -