During any election, a spotlight shines directly on each of the candidates by way of commercials, campaigning, and media surrounding every move they make. But although you may have every political commercial memorized, maybe you haven’t noticed the more subtle campaigning that each candidate does online.
Details regarding this year’s election are not finalized yet, but there was a report put out earlier this year about social media use in the Massachusetts Senate race between Scott Brown (R) and Martha Coakley (D) in January. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but there are still some very interesting points made in this report showing the value and power of social media.
First of all, Brown received 10.6 times more Facebook page interactions (not just views, but people clicking on something) and YouTube video views than Coakley. Facebook may have started out as a toy for college kids, but it has grown into something much more powerful now. In fact, Facebook was able to predict the outcome of 70% of the elections this week based on the number of fans each candidate’s Facebook page had at the time the polls opened. As a tool for not only networking but also “spreading the word”, people turn to Facebook for ways to connect – and connecting with politicians certainly stands out as a key example of this.
Second, 24% of Coakley’s followers lived in Massachusetts at the time of the election compared to 17% of Brown’s, yet Brown had a significantly larger following (I do not know the exact numbers). This is an interesting statistic because even though Coakley focused more of her Twitter attention to those who would be involved in her election, Brown took it to a more national level and involved those that may not necessarily live in Massachusetts, but probably have some sort of connection to it. This undoubtedly created a much more national push for his election, rather than a local one. A handful of candidates stand out in every election – Christine O’Donnell, for instance – and whether positive or negative, those are the candidates that make headlines.
Overall, it’s interesting to compare different approaches and how each fared in the election. Brown, who focused heavily on social media, started out with name recognition of 51% and by January had 95% name recognition among voters. He featured social media and Twitter on his website and constantly updated content on Facebook and YouTube. Coakley, conversely, did not post as much content on any site, including Twitter, where she primarily retweeted other user’s content.
So what is the moral of this story? To gain name recognition for yourself, it is important to develop a targeted strategy. Creating a Twitter account and repurposing content will not win you followers. Instead, it is important to focus on generating new and noteworthy content that will attract the eyes and attention of your followers and potential followers. Only by starting a new conversation will you receive a response. Otherwise, you might as well be tweeting into cyberspace.