Social Media and Its Influence on Politics:
Facebook and its influence on business, children, and even our health has been studied and written about to excess. And yet, I find very little from anyone really digging into its influence on politics. (Please leave a comment with links to articles if you know of any good one’s!) To make this article easier (and OK, more fun for me) to write I made up a new word for the use of social media to a political advantage.
Smolitics: defined as a person, place, or thing’s popularity,performance, or general acceptance on social media.
Last November, I posted the following question to my Facebook friends: “Will the candidates with the most Twitter followers and Facebook page likes win this election?” (See the bottom section titled: “My Facebook Friends’ Opinions” for my friends’ intelligent and enlightening commentary on the subject.)
With the presidential elections coming up, questioning the correlation between a candidate’s popularity on Facebook and Twitter vs. his (and sometimes her) chances of being elected is more interesting than ever!
QUESTION: Will social media popularity predict our elected officials?
– Even though 62% of my friends said yes to this, the answer is still: probably not. However, it is important to know the three big reasons why it’s not a good assumption to say the one who has more social media support will win… yet:
IT IS ALSO IMPORTANT TO NOTE:
More seniors are getting on Facebook and those young, passionate citizens are turning 18 – the first 2 gaps are closing.
Facebook Smolitics: At a Glance:
To see who is doing better according to Facebook all I had to do was observe, collect some numbers, and then figure out some “trends” to find out who was the most popular and whose popularity is rising.
The following table shows the number of “likes” I collected from the fan pages for the three main candidates for presidency. The numbers were collected for four weeks on the dates posted in the top row.
|Dates Collected ->||Tues. 9/18/2012||Thurs. 9/27/2012||Thurs. 10/4/2012||Wed. 10/10/2012|
My bar graph below shows the number of likes each candidate had on the first day (labeled Week 1). I began collecting numbers on 9/18/2012 and then collected the increases of each candidate once a week. The dates these numbers were collected for the week are specified.
If all we had to do is look at and compare the number of “Likes” for each candidate’s Facebook page, we could quickly conclude that Barack Obama is the more popular of any candidate and he will be re-elected as the next president of the US. But there’s so much more too it. Let’s look closer first at the dramatic increases these numbers each week.
It was predictable that the number of “likes” would climb as we are getting closer to voting time. The following numbers show that this prediction is accurate.
|1 & 2||2 & 3||3 & 4|
(These numbers were calculated by taking the number of increase in “likes” divided by the number of days between the dates specified on the graph to your left. There are 9 days between the dates of weeks 1 and 2, 7 days between weeks 2 and 3, and 6 days between weeks 3 and 4.)
QUESTION: Do the politico’s care about their own smolitics
YES! And Facebook is a great example. Look at those numbers increasing!
The fact that Tuesday, November 6, 2012 (voting day) is rapidly approaching isn’t the only reason that these numbers are rapidly rising. You can bet that the candidates have many highly paid smolitical experts blazing the parallel, electronic versions of their campaign trail.
Prime Example: Mitt Romney’s team has purchased multiple keywords for searches in Facebook. To see what I mean, just type in “obama” or even “presi” (the beginning of the word president).
Try it yourself! (FYI: Sponsored ads rotate, so you may not see this every time.)
I took screenshots of mine. Click the thumbnails pics to view a larger image of the sponsored ads my search showed me below:
Numbers We Don’t Know:
It’s already been said that not everyone who votes is a member of Facebook, and that many of those “likes” could come from those too young to vote.
So how does an e-campaign trail blazer know that their campaign is successfully reaching voters?
<- Look to the left and click to enlarge this example of a vital tool utilized for a politician's smolitical campaign.
We (the non-admins of any fan pages) aren't privy to these numbers. But in the insights of these Facebook pages those social media experts are viewing this info daily. It filters people who "like" the page by age (and of course you must be 18 to vote in the U.S.) and by country (the importance of this sort of goes without saying).
I hope you knew about these insights already because all companies executing successful social media marketing collect and utilize this data. Having these numbers for a politician's fan page would definitely help argue the importance of smolitics wouldn't it?
QUESTION: (For citizens of voting age) Is “liking” a politico’s fan page as good as voting for them?
– Of course not, you are allowed to be fans of either page, neither page, or both.
Why would someone not “like” either? – Because of the old social rule: Avoid topics of conversation that include religion or politics. – People have a kind of bravery to speak their mind on outlets like Facebook. If they think you disagree with your “liking” a certain candidate, you can bet it’s going to be made known on Facebook in clear view of all your other Facebook friends. (Don’t you hate that?) So some just avoid the confrontation altogether… This is the type of person who would not wear his/her team’s jersey in another state.
Why would someone choose both? – Either they are still trying to decide on who to vote for or they are like the previous person who chose to vote for neither and are trying to agree with everyone.
QUESTION: Because of all the numbers we don’t know, does it matter which presidential candidate has more fans on Facebook?
– YES! The more likes you have the more support you seem to have. Isn’t that what political campaigns are about…getting support?
It’s the same for anyone who has a Facebook Fan page, they want as many validating “likes” as they can get.
My Facebook Friends’ Opinions
Who cares? / Maybe