Social Media Influencing The 2012 Political Campaigns

By Gavin Brown

Authority Level 3In 2008, The Washington Post heralded President Barack Obama as the “Social Networking King” for his use of social media during his campaign for presidency [1]. While there were politicians before Obama who used blogs and web pages to seek funds and support, no one used social media to the same extent as the Obama Campaign.  Obama raised over half a billion dollars online. J.A. Vargus of The Washington Post states, “3 million donors made a total of 6.5 million donations online adding up to more than $500 million. Of those 6.5 million donations, 6 million were in increments of $100 or less” [2]. When political supporters attended rallies, they voluntarily supplied their email addresses, and over the course of his campaign, Obama created a database of over 13 million e-mail addresses.  Obama maintained political profiles on over fifteen different social networks ranging from Facebook, MySpace, to BlackPlanet or Eons, among others, which allowed him to communicate with his supporters on a more personal basis. Obama was able to promote his message faster and to a much wider audience through several other methods: by collaborating with musician and rapper William James Adams, Jr., or “Will.i.am,“ to create a promotional song out of sound bytes from his speeches and by commissioning a San Francisco artist who created the iconic “Hope” posters. Obama was able to promote his message faster and to a much wider audience than any politician in history [3][4]. By using social media as an outreach tool for communicating personally with his supporters, promoting his message and creating a quick and easy way to donate to his campaign, Obama restructured the way politicians will run for the 2012 presidency.According to journalist J.C. Tedesco, since American citizens adopted broadband Internet in their homes, they have increased the amount of usage “from less than 5% in 2000 to approximately 25% by 2004 and 55% by April 2008.” Since the early years, the Internet has been utilized in political campaigns, but recently “the percentage of Americans who indicate that most of their campaign news comes from the Internet increased from 10% in October 2004 to 33% in October 2008” [5]. The most frequently visited Internet sites are tracked by the websites themselves.  The Obama campaign in 2008 tracked the traffic of Internet users going through their site, BarackObama.com.  J.A. Vargus of The Washington Post reports that the “’analytics team’ measured everything that went in and out of the site – tracking which ad at what time drew the most traffic and which kinds of e-mails from the campaign got opened and read the most” [2]. The data collected are then used to roughly determine the positions and trends of potential voters, and Politicians can adjust their campaigns to take account of them. Political campaigns such as Obama’s have staff positions called “Big Data Analysts,” who “allow political campaigns to infer how likely specific people are to vote, and which issues are important to them” [6]. This collected and analyzed data of voters’ behavioral patterns could give one political party an advantage over the others in the election process.

Due to the increasing proliferation of mobile technology, politicians are now able to communicate with supporters faster and more effectively.  According to a Pew Internet Research study, 75% of teens and 93% of adults ages 18-29 now have a cell phone [7].  That is a huge percentage of the American public with whom politicians can directly communicate through their handheld devices.  Since people almost always have their cell phones with them, they are now registering their locations.  Political analysts are able to record the people’s locations and use that information as a data gathering point. By using Internet applications such as Foursquare and Facebook, political parties are able to keep track of people who have checked in at rallies and follow up with more political paraphernalia related to the events they attended. G. Goodale of The Christian Science Monitor explains that at rallies people can use “’QR,’ or quick response codes, at mobile check-ins where users ‘check in’ at a location and get digital badges for other rewards such as free drinks and T-shirts.”  The rally organizers can then log the people who have checked in, and “next time they want to raise money, they can text (or message) you with a ‘We need $5!’ appeal that you can respond to with a few flicks of your fingers” [8]. One of the biggest shifts in Obama’s 2012 campaign will be focused on “the central importance of mobile communications—as in cell phones, Smartphones, and iPads” [8]. Both President Obama’s and the front-runner of the Republican primary, Mitt Romney’s campaign webpages integrate mobile technology into their respective campaigns [9]. President Obama’s homepage, BarackObama.com, allows Facebook users to log in with their personal accounts, and allows for easy redirection to Obama’s Flickr, Google+, Twitter, Tumbler, YouTube, and Pinterest webpages [10]. Mitt Romney’s webpage, MittRomney.com, also allows viewers to connect with him through Twitter, e-mail, Flickr, and Facebook [11].

While Facebook, YouTube, and other social media sites are expected to play a large part in the upcoming election, Twitter is proposed to have a huge role in the election process. In 2008, Twitter was still relatively new and wasn’t used to its full potential. Since Twitter’s inception four years ago, it has steadily grown to become a “part of an elite group of social Web start-ups that have flourished in recent years by rapidly attracting users” [12]. Over the last couple years, “Obama and all the GOP presidential candidates have obtained Twitter accounts, as have 85 senators and at least 360 House members” [13]. Through Twitter’s services, those politicians are able to get their messages out to their supporters in seconds. By using Twitter as a campaign tool, there is a shorter gap between the politician and the American people.  Anyone subscribed to Obama’s or Romney’s Twitter feeds are updated regularly on that man’s daily experiences. Not only is Twitter a great tool for getting a campaign message out to the public, it has also recently started selling political advertisements.  Politicians are able to pay for “Promoted Advertising,” which will publish posts “in the [Twitter] timelines of people who follow campaigns.” The “Promoted Advertising” will also “pop up when certain search terms are used” on Twitter feeds [13]. Twitter is now hosting advertisements of politicians, making it even more of a political battleground between groups.

Not only is Twitter changing how politicians are campaigning, it is also changing how reporters cover elections. Twitter is a real-time social network, where users are able to Tweet (sending 140-character messages) out to their subscribers.  It also allows users to subscribe to other people’s feeds as well as the Twitter feeds of other organizations [14]. For over ten presidential elections R.W. Apple Jr. (A.K.A. Johnny Apple) would report for The New York Times by getting to know the candidates “up close and personal, with their feet up, their guard down and, perhaps, a drink at the ready” [15].  Nowadays, the reporters are “tweeting” every little thing that is going on as they follow the political races.  There is a “24/7 news cycle brought on by cable news and the Internet” [15].  Political reporters are able to constantly make their thoughts available and to respond to each other’s “Tweets.”   In 2008 The Huffington Post launched “a citizen-based reporting project called “OffTheBus,” which showcased stories through Twitter by no fewer than 12,000 unpaid bloggers,” bringing the political opinions of non-reporters into the media that can be seen nationally [15].  In 2012, The Huffington Post relaunched the OffTheBus program.  The goal of this project is to get the American people reporting their thoughts and opinions on the 2012 election. The citizen reporters covered politics through social media networks for OffTheBus in locations where regular journalists were not always allowed. For example, OffTheBus reporters reported many dinners and rallies, where journalists were not always allowed [16]. Having many people report their opinions about politics through OffTheBus raises an issue of the credibility of those reporters.  Twelve thousand people reporting news that they may not fully understand or may not have been educated for would certainly produce 12,000 opinions, not always news. While having the news brought by average people is good, it might not be better than having the news presented by people who were properly educated in political science, economics, and other subjects related to the political fields.

President Obama’s campaign administration completely changed the face of political campaigning by using social media to take control over the 2008 election.  Through social media, they were able to bridge the gap between average Americans and a politician running for president.  In 2012, both Democratic and Republican parties are using sites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and many others to spread their political messages and gather support across many different fronts.  The election of 2012 will be the first in which the American public will have opportunity to know almost everything that is going on in both presidential campaigns with lightning speed. The portable devices carried by the sides of 93% of American adults will get political messages out faster than at any other time in history.

References

[1] Vargas, J.A., (October, 6 2007). Barack Obama, Social Networking King. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2007/10/barack-obama-social-networking.html

[2] Vargas, J.A., (November 20, 2008). Obama Raised Half A Billion Online. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2008/11/obama-raised-half-a-billion-on.html

[3] Will.i.am. Yes We Can (June 3, 2008).  Viewed April 11, 2012.  Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsV2O4fCgjk

[4] Kaye, K. (July 15, 2011). Obama Builds Data Team That Could Inform Digital Ads, Social. Clickz.com. Retrieved from http://www.clickz.com/clickz/news/2094531/obama-builds-team-inform-digital-ads-social

[5] Tedesco, J. C. (April 19, 2011). Political Information Efficacy and Internet Effects in the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election. Retrieved from http://abs.sagepub.com/content/55/6/696.full.pdf+html

[6] Rutenberg, J., Zeleny, J. (March 8, 2012). Obama Mines for voters With High-Tech Tools. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/08/us/politics/obama-campaigns-vast-effort-to-re-enlist-08-supporters.html?pagewanted=all

[7] Lenhart, A., Purcell, K., Smith, A., Zickuhr, K. (February 3, 2010). Social Media & Mobile Internet Use Among Teens and Young Adults. Retrieved from http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Social-Media-and-Young-Adults.aspx

[8] Goodale, G. (April 20, 2011). New Social Media and the 2012 Election: Waaaaay Beyond Facebook. 2008. The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved from http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2011/0420/New-social-media-and-the-2012-election-Waaaaay-beyond-Facebook-2008

[9] Foster, P. (March 7, 2012). Super Tuesday 2012: Mitt Romney Lays Claim to Nomination But Rivals Fight On. The Telegraph. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/us-election/9129467/Super-Tuesday-2012-Mitt-Romney-lays-claim-to-nomination-but-rivals-fight-on.html

[10] Obama, Barack. Obama For America. Retrieved from http://www.barackobama.com/

[11] Romney, Mitt. Mitt Romney for President. Retrieved from http://www.mittromney.com/

[12] Twitter (December 19, 2011). Twitter. The New York Times. Retrieved from
http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/business/companies/twitter/index.html?offset=0&s=newest

[13] Preston, J. (September 21, 2011). Twitter Starts Selling Political Ads. The New York Times, The Caucus. Retrieved from http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/21/twitter-starts-selling-political-ads/

[14] Twitter. Twitter – About. Retrieved from http://twitter.com/about

[15] Enda, J. (October/November 2011). Campaign Coverage In The Time of Twitter. American Journalism Review. Retrieved from http://ajr.org/Article.asp?id=5134

[16] Michel, A. (March/April 2009). Get Off The Bus. Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved from http://www.cjr.org/feature/get_off_the_bus.php?page=all

Footnotes

1. Eons is a social media network much like Facebook, but it caters to Baby-Boomers who want to connect with each using social media. Black Planet is another social media network that caters to African Americans.

59 thoughts on “Social Media Influencing The 2012 Political Campaigns

  1. The trend itself is very alarming. I would much rather have a candidate who is “up close and personal, with their feet up, their guard down and, perhaps, a drink at the ready” than some guy sitting in his limo, “tweeting”. Obama, in all of his oratorical glory is very distant from his actual supporters and voters, he is the first internet president, who is defined by a logo, an internet picture and a youtube video. If you think about it, all of politics right now is defined by this cloud “subjective internet reality”, maybe that’s why it’s so horrible?

  2. It’s fun to watch these populistic kind of campaigns from The Netherlands. It’s a completely different type of democracy.

  3. Very interesting read. I believe the 2016 elections will require social media for any political candidate running. I am a co-owner of a loyalty program software and have had politicians contact our firm about rewarding activists for actions. I would not doubt that reward program marketing in conjunction with social media will dominate the 2016 elections.

    All the best,
    Co-Owner – Jonathan Ingram
    FBM Rewards
    http://www.fbmrewards.com

  4. What i don’t realize is in fact how you are now not
    actually a lot more well-preferred than you may be now.
    You’re so intelligent. You understand therefore significantly in
    relation to this subject, made me in my opinion consider it from a
    lot of various angles. Its like men and women are not involved until it’s something to do with Woman gaga!

    Your individual stuffs great. All the time handle it up!

  5. App Marketing & App Marketing Services have the strong grip on these
    two areas for marketing purposes. It can also make readers to visit your blog and your site regularly.
    With increased consumption of smart phones there is a need to
    get both android and iphone apps as with increasing consumer downloads
    your business will also grow rapidly.

  6. I believe other web site proprietors must take this site as an type really clean and great variety and design, in addition to the content. You might be an expert in this topic!

  7. Hey, thank you for the feedback! I would suggest that saying “God died over a cross” isn’t particular sufficient theological terminology to accurately describe what happened there. Vague terminology like which could result in deviant thinking on the trinity. Of course I don’t think it is the cardinal sin to use vague phrases, but I consider it can reveal our confusion when it comes to the trinity.

  8. Good day! I could have sworn I’ve been to this web site before but after going through some of
    the articles I realized it’s new to me. Anyhow,
    I’m definitely pleased I came across it and I’ll be book-marking it
    and checking back regularly!

  9. If the printing job is done on a regular basis, the ink supply
    will get exhausted and needs to be replaced or refilled from time
    to time. One thing remains though and that is
    the fact that all printers need a printing medium.
    Some are highly qualified, competent stores refill printer cartridge to the original Quality,
    Value and Performance levels.

  10. Hiya, I uncovered your internet-site by using Yahoo whilst trying to find a equivalent make any difference, your blog got here up, it looks to be like superior. We have saved to help our favourites features|included with social bookmarks.

  11. Whats up. Incredibly nice net site!! Guy .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I will bookmark your website and consume the feeds additionally…I am satisfied to locate plenty of helpful data the following inside the article. Thanks for sharing…

  12. Apprezzo la tua comment.Share vostra saggezza e la storia con noi nel commento section.Leave un commento qui sotto e rilasciare le vostre conoscenze con il resto di noi! Se avete qualcosa da aggiungere, o non siete d’accordo con qualsiasi cosa, quindi pubblicare un commento qui

  13. I’m not sure why but this weblog is loading very slow for me.

    Is anyone else having this problem or is it a problem on my end?
    I’ll check back later on and see if the problem still
    exists.

  14. Normally I do not find out article on blogs, however I would like to say that this post extremely pressured me to check out and do it! Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thank you, very excellent article.

  15. Heeya i’m forr the first time here. I came across this board and Ifind
    It really useful & it helped me outt a lot.
    I hpe to give something baxk and aid others like
    you aided me.

  16. Woah! I’m really enjoying the template/theme of this website.
    It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s challenging to
    get that “perfect balance” between usability and visual
    appeal. I must say you’ve done a very good job with this.
    In addition, the blog loads extremely quick for me on Chrome.

    Exceptional Blog!

  17. Hello, i think that i saw you visited my blog thus i got here to return the desire?.I am trying to in finding things to improve my site!I suppose its
    ok to use a few of your ideas!!

  18. Today, I went to the beach with my children.
    I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put
    the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely
    off topic but I had to tell someone!

  19. It’s remarkable to pay a visit this web site and reading the views of all friends on the
    topic of this piece of writing, while I am also keen of getting experience.

  20. I don’t drop many comments, however i did some searching and wound up here Social Media Influencing The
    2012 Political Campaigns | Interface. And I actually do have a
    couple of questions for you if it’s allright. Could it be just me or does it look like a
    few of these responses appear like coming from brain dead folks?

    :-P And, if you are writing on additional social sites, I would
    like to follow anything new you have to post.
    Could you make a list of all of all your communal pages like
    your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin
    profile?

  21. Thank you for sharing excellent information. Your web site is quite cool. I am impressed by the details that you’ve on this site. It reveals how nicely you realize this subject. Bookmarked this website page, will arrive back for additional articles.

  22. Nice post. I was checking continuously this blog and I’m impressed!
    Extremely useful info particularly the last part :)
    I care for such info much. I was seeking this certain info for
    a long time. Thank you and best of luck.

  23. I’d like to thank you for the efforts you’ve put in writing this blog.
    I am hoping to see the same high-grade content from you later on as well.

    In truth, your creative writing abilities has encouraged
    me to get my very own website now ;)

  24. We stumbled over here by a different web address and thought I may as well check things out.
    I like what I see so i am just following you. Look forward to looking over your web page for a second time.

  25. Good day! This is my first visit to your blog!
    We are a group of volunteers and starting a new project in a community in the same niche.

    Your blog provided us valuable information to work on. You have done
    a extraordinary job!

  26. I absolutely love your blog.. Excellent colors & theme.
    Did you make this amazing site yourself? Please reply back as I’m wanting to create my very own site and would love
    to find out where you got this from or just what the theme
    is named. Cheers!

  27. I and also my friends came searching at the beneficial tips located over a site and ahead of lengthy I had a terrible feeling I never thanked the net web site owner for people tips. All of the folks are genuinely warmed to understand them and have now genuinely been creating the most of these things. Many thanks for genuinely getting extremely type in addition to for figuring out specific extremely excellent themes most persons are quite needing to be aware of. My trustworthy apologies for not expressing appreciation to earlier.

  28. List items that you own and no longer want on auction sites or in classifieds and sell them for quick cash.
    Pros:With affiliate marketing you don’t need your own product, so there are no
    product creation costs, or time spent doing so. Even when
    all the variables are right, some people just won’t buy from you
    (maybe not today).

  29. I drop a leave a response each time I appreciate a article on a website or if I have something to contribute to the discussion.
    It is a result of the sincerness displayed in the article I looked
    at. And after this post Social Media Influencing The
    2012 Political Campaigns | Interface. I was moved enough to post a comment ;-) I do have a couple of questions for
    you if it’s okay. Is it only me or does it look like like
    some of the remarks appear like left by brain dead
    individuals? :-P And, if you are writing at additional online social sites, I would like
    to follow you. Could you make a list the complete urls of all
    your community sites like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

  30. I constantly emailed this webpage post page to all my contacts, because if like to read it
    next my contacts will too.

  31. People will read your information and find this interesting and click on your affiliate
    link. Well, if you answered yes to these questions, then make today the day
    that you change your life forever. When in the process of choosing
    your keywords, it’s a good idea to choose keywords that have
    some competition but not too much.

  32. Salut les gars, blog commentant sur internet est une façon facile de partager commenter les uns les autres. Cette méthode peut fermer les gens dans le monde entier dans la sympathie et l’empathie. Je crois blog commentant est également une source de savoir les opinions des autres

  33. I’m pretty pleased to discover this website. I want to to thank
    you for your time for this particularly wonderful read!!
    I definitely really liked every bit of it and i also have you book marked to see new information in your website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>