Voting: Assisted by Social Media

For months United States citizens have been bombarded with political campaign ads putting down or degrading competitors and explaining why that certain someone is the best choice for you and for middle-class America. There have been so much smear campaigns this election than previous elections, or maybe I have not paid as much attention to previous election campaigns. Regardless, the season is coming to a close, which I think most people, including myself, are thankful for.

One of the pressing questions in my mind has been the relevance that candidates find the vote of the younger population to be. In some aspects, as Bob Al-Greene says in the article, Facebook Inspires Young Voters to take Action, “For the younger demographic of new voters, social media can be a push to the ballot.” I believe that this is true, social media can be, if used effectively, a strategic mechanism for candidates to use to gain support from a younger demographic. But, form my own observation, I have seen less social media activity for this election compared to the previous 2008 election, and both campaigns seem to not focus on young adults.

An interesting infographic that was associated with the story showed just how pivotal social media can be for a campaign. Some of the numbers indicated that:

  • Young Americans are more active on Facebook than in politics
  • 98% of young adults, ages 18-24 use some sort of social media regularly
  • only 48.5% of young adults voted in the 2008 election, but that number was more than in 2004, with over 2 million young citizens casting their vote in 2008

A study was done at the University of California that looked at the relationship between a social message that was sent to voters during a congressional election in 2010. Three  important findings were reported:

1- A social message encouraged user to vote in the election

2- Data found that users who received the message were more likely to vote

3- This small action turned in about 600,000 more votes

The use of social media is essential in gaining the vote of a younger demographic, but the question of a candidate’s views of the importance of the vote from a younger demographic, has still got me wondering.

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About jlswenson

I am currently a senior at Marquette University studying Public Relations with minors in Marketing and Psychology. I've taken numerous classes in Public Relations, Advertising and Marketing disciplines. Additionally, I've had experience working with PitchEngine and Cision.
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2 Responses to Voting: Assisted by Social Media

  1. I think now that the election is over we can really understand just how big of a role social media played in the election process. PR Daily published a great article today that took everything social media from the election and combined it into three things we learned. The first takeaway is that Tumblr is a great platform to interact with a younger generation. Second, content is becoming just as important as advertising. Finally, the article said we will never have a “ho-hum election” again. I think we can all agree each candidate used social media to their advantage whereas the community used it to voice their opinions (and be kept up to date with who was winning the election). Either way, I think social media played a huge role in this election!

  2. kevobrien says:

    I really think that social media is becoming more and more important for all elections and candidates, even at the local level. As you mentioned, social media engagement was extremely important in getting young people to vote. I know that one of the main narratives going into this election was whether the young people would go out and vote for this election because people thought they were so dissuaded with the current state of politics. However, after the election it became clear that young people did go out and vote. I truly believe that a lot of this has to do with social media engagement.

    I know you mentioned that you thought social media was more prevalent in the last presidential election, however I disagree. I think that social media was more prevalent in this election, it’s just that we heard more about it last election because it was new to us, and now we’ve come to expect the candidates to use social media as part of their campaign. I really think that moving forward, political candidates will have to work hard to be unique on social media, and avoid over-saturation. I think it will be interesting to see what future candidates do on social media to engage potential voters.

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