Everyone has used or at least has heard of one social network site by now. They have become a source of information for me and others to socialise, to connect to organisations, and relate to other individuals over common interests and interesting issues. Some people even use them to escape from reality and create a virtual life for themselves using more old-school platforms like Second life, so it is clear to see that social networking can be a really powerful and cost effective tool for any organisation to tap into.
So much so that in the last U.S presidential campaign Obama won his fight with his opponent Hillary Clinton and John McCain over the response he received on his Facebook campaign which created an incredible amount of online coverage. The campaign was one of the first in the presidential history to recognise the importance and relevance of social networking amongst potential voters using tools such as Facebook, Twitter and Google. The ‘Pew Internet & American Life Project’ reported that in the 2008 election “more than half the voting-age population used the internet to connect to the political process during an election cycle.”
However, Mitt Romney’s strategic digital planner believes that just because Obama won those campaigns in 2008 doesn’t necessary mean to say he will again this year. He makes a very good point to say “If that was the case, Google wouldn’t be adapting, and Microsoft and Xerox would still be running things.”
And so, Mitt’s campaign has taken a step further by diversifying its digital strategy and recognising the use of other social media tools such as Pinterest and Instagram with Mitt’s wife Ann Romney posting content that is targeting a much more female audience.
I believe that engaging your audience in a much ‘less formal’ manner will certainly encourage voters and help them to relate to the candidates easier ,which should result in higher numbers of votes and more polling success. The individuals voting will also be much better informed than on years gone by and by using platforms that are widely available they should also be reaching a much younger demographic. You never know it might increase the voting rate of the younger generation.
However, a problem arises in this study that clearly shows the aging population is on the rise, which means that viral campaigns such as these can be at a disadvantage with certain age groups not taking part in the whole campaign cycle and missing out. For instance, it took me a good year to teach my mum how to use Facebook and that process is still on-going, and my dad has no idea what Twitter actually is. With all that in mind and having such a huge age range to target it is important to note that instead of finding more social network tools to bombard people with, I think it would be more effective to make it the campaigns more accessible for all generations to use and understand no matter what platform the campaigns are run on.
I would love to hear your thoughts/comments.