Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Political Candidates Ignore Social Media at their Peril

Political campaigns are gearing up for the 2012 elections and candidates are wondering how much in resources they should allocate to social media. Many campaigns rely on volunteers or scarcely devote any resources to social media. Even though Obama’s defeat of John McCain in the 2008 presidential election was partly due to Obama deeply integrating digital strategy into his real-world campaign, many campaigns still shrug off the importance of social media, spending less than five percent of their media expenditures online.
Social media is taking over traditional areas of campaigns, from fundraising to media to volunteer recruitment and more. Some now argue that social media is the most influential part of a campaign. Its effect is difficult to measure, however, because it encompasses so many parts of a campaign.
Fundraising, perhaps the most important aspect of a political campaign, can be extremely lucrative online. Ron Paul raised over $1 million within 24 hours online. A recent study of the California governor’s race found that the results of “social listening” closely correlated with polling and focus groups. Simply paying attention to social media – which is almost all virtually free - could save a campaign thousands of dollars otherwise spent on polling.
48% of 18 to 34 year olds check Facebook when they wake up in the morning. 65% of adults under age 30 cite the internet as their primary source for news, almost doubling since 2007. A full 34% of people ages 50 to 64 also rely on the internet for news. Twitter has become a better source for breaking news than any other news source.

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