The 2010 Election and Social Media

Did you earn your "I Voted" Badge
from Foursquare on Tuesday?

Over 50,000 people checked into
a polling booth with the #ivoted hashtag to earn the prestigious badge.

Think that's a lot? Over 12
million people clicked the "I Voted" button on Facebook for the 2010 elections.
According to Mashable, that is twice the amount that occurred in the 2008

I can't even begin measure the amount
of noise that was made on Twitter and the blogosphere. Tweet tweet tweet.

fb voted.jpg

You are probably asking
yourself... "So what?"

Here's what's up. 

"It will still be at least a few hours before we know all of the results of today's mid-term elections in the United States, but interest in the proceedings is apparently so high that a long-standing (in Internet time) Web traffic record has already been broken. "

According to Akamai's Net Usage Index for News, traffic to 100 top news sites (powered by Akamai's content delivery network) has already peaked at a higher level than Barack Obama's 2008 presidential election victory - 4.6 million to 4.2 million page views per minute, respectively."

2010 Election Tops Obama's Presidential Win in Online Traffic, Adam Ostrow, Mashable.


That is a lot of page views.


Now why is this important? Social media is taking over in the land of politics. Some are under the impression that the two cannot merge, but it is clear after the huge online event two days ago that politics and social media are going to marry. Traditional media is getting swept under the rug as politicians New Media Consultants are flying to Facebook and Twitter to campaign and interact with the community. Building a connection is a vital part of any campaign and when the connectors are moving online, the game needs to change. 


While we might not see a humongous shift in politics and social media until the next election, I feel like 2010 is a good indicator of what is to come. Facebook was able to basically predict which candidates won through the number of times each fan page was visited. Twitter showed the candidates that were trending in different regions and was all a buzz with #election and #vote hashtags. Twitter was a great indicator of what topics were important to people for the election with health care and tax being the top two issues of conversation according to Mashable's graphics below. Foursquare opened an interactive map that showed where poll booth check-ins were happening and whether or not the people voting were female or male. Looking at the map, you can see that California had the most check-ins while places like Montana had 19. (Remind me to never move to Montana. Ever.)



Graph from "Election Day: Who is getting the most buzz on Twitter?", Jolie O'Dell, Mashable


The point is, while there will always be the traditional political push (because there has to be multiple channels of publicity and voice for such a campaign to be pulled off and we know that the web does not reach everyone), social media is starting to be looked at as a vital part of political campaigns. It began with Obama's success online and now it is growing like rapid fire. 

What needs to be overcome now is the switch from online buzz and actual action. If everyone is talking about you on Twitter but no one actually leaves their house to vote for you there is zero mobilization. It is a trick that takes a while to master. My advice to the New Media Consultants that are working with politicians is to develop a plan that will actually move people off their computer and to the polling booths before the next election. 

Read this article on the Future of Social Media and Politics to get some more information and insight on the possibilities in the next few years. 

What outlets did you use to track the 2010 elections? I used Twitter and the Huffington Post with their interactive map and streaming predictions. Visit the news source to get all the updates on the political drama as it continues to unfold.


Funny side-note text from my mom on election day:

Me: Our country is red.

Mom: I'm still looking for someone to vote with your registration ballot we got in the mail!

Thanks Mom for holding my registration hostage in Maryland.





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  • I love the point that you make about Facebook likes being an indicator for a candidate set to win. It is amazing how social networking has infiltrated every facet of our lives, including something as conservative as politics.

  • Yes!! Lauren I was hoping you would write about social media and the election.
    Such a good post, a so so relevant. I feel that social media is going to be the future of elections, especially in terms of polling and campaigning, which I think your post shows.
    I also used the Huffington Post, as well as the New York Times website to track the election results. I watched CNN for awhile, but the talking heads sort of detracted from the actual results.

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