Get ready for the 2012 campaign season — on your Facebook

18 Jun

Political Candidate with Social Media ButtonsMashable (via Social Times) is reporting that social media has a big impact on how we get our news and information.   (I’m thinking I might need to start a “well, duh” tag.)   We’re more likely to get information, to actually watch/read the information, and to share the information online than IRL.   Because of all this, “social media users are more likely to be influenced by Facebook “friends” than the evening news.” And in all of this, they’re using the term “social media voters”, a term that I’m going to wholeheartedly embrace.

I’ll own up — this information about having your politics influenced by social media, it’s true for me.   Some of my Facebook friends work on the Hill, others are professors, politicians, community activists, campaign managers, and journalists.   I totally trust their opinions much more than a reporter or the news.   (You know it’s not always fair and balanced, right?)   Probably, a lot of this has to do with the fact that I know my friends biases and what makes them tick.   I know that Sam’s a republic campaign strategist, that Ashley writes for TownHall and that Dom’s a union organizer. All of those outside points of information help me to evaluate the news that they post and to decide how true I find it. So yeah, I’m a social media voter and I would guess that the vast majority of you reading this are social media voters, too.

GOP Elefant, Democrat Doney, Social Media LogosAnd really, getting news from personal, local sources (albeit those definitions have changed over time) via social networking, is very similar to the way that people have always received news.   The idea that Walter Cronkite of whomever was the be all, end all of “the truth” is a purely 20th century invention.   Throughout history, we’ve gotten our news from friends and neighbors and had personal contact with our sources.   Now, we’re doing the same thing – we’re just using social media to do it. Social media voters are cutting out the middle man of the main stream media. And their sources and information are probably better for it.

Here are some of the numbers behind the SocialVibe study that lead to all this reporting:

“94% of voting-age social media users are more likely to watch an entire political message viewed online, and then 39% will share it with an average of 130 friends. The study also found that an investment of $25,000 in a campaign that engages social media users could spread the content online to people of voting age in all 50 states within 24 hours.”

Politicians aren’t stupid.   (Okay, fine, campaign strategists aren’t stupid.)   And you know that they’ll be looking for ways to take advantage of this.   Get ready for a huge increase in the number of political ads, videos, etc. coming at you via social networking channels.   (If you don’t already have Ad Block, now might be a good time to get it.)

The SocialVibe study also indicated that political ad campaigns continue to shift more advertising budgets to online and mobile advertising. But it gets a little tricky because the campaigns have the challenge of presenting political messages in such a way that supporters want to share the information.

The key is to facilitate the users or political supporters to share messages or campaigns. Thus, the campaigners will need to become more creative in order to engage and develop loyalty to persuade others such as “friends” to be engaged as well.

Vote ButtonsThat’s the trick, isn’t it?   Finding ways to present political messages and advertizing in ways that social networking users/social media voters want to share.   Unfortunately, the amount of advertizing that you face on the Internet can often make it feel like you’re battling through ads, pop-ups, and sponsored content just to get to the one piece of information that you really want.   And as much as campaigns may wish to think it’s true, the vast majority of us can tell the difference between content that comes directly from our network and sponsored content – and look the other way as soon as we see any of that sponsored content coming.   (I met someone recently who asked why I even bother with ad block – she’s so desensitized to   all the advertizing on the internet   that she doesn’t even notice it any more.)

So campaigns: be funny, be engaging, and be clever.   Let someone with a personality manage your social media presence.   Take some risks and post things that will get people talking.   Don’t just tie your Facebook to your website and cross post everything.   You know Slate’s fake Barack Obama Facebook newsfeed? That’s the kind of creativity I want to see. (Barack Obama and Michelle Obama are now in a relationship. Herman Cain and Mitt Romney attended the Republican debate. Michelle Obama likes “Obama 2012”. Etc.) Of course, you could always post sexist, racist videos , those will get people talking, too. Just probably not in the way that you were hoping for.

Questions of the day: Where do you get your news?  Do you engage with sponsored content, or put on your blinders and look the other way?

Also: This is not really worthy of its own post, but there’s talk of a new video game that’s like Oregon Trail after the zompocalypse .   Best video game idea ever!

MaggieCakes is a blog about culture, social media, and what’s new on the Internet culture. Every day (okay, I try for every day) I comb blogs and news outlets for the news about Internet culture and social media to bring them to you (with my commentary, of course) here on MaggieCakes. MaggieCakes is hosted by WordPress and often draws upon Slate, Jezebel, The Hair Pin, and SocialTimes for links and inspiration. My post Social Media and the Art of Storytelling was featured on Freshly Pressed, bringing a whole new readership to my blog. Find anything interesting in the worlds of culture or social media that you’d like to see a post on? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail at

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