Shelby: For decades, candidates have counted on political conventions, rallies, TV ads, fundraisers and even star-power, to help get them campaign donations — and votes. .
But now, modern technology is making a big difference. Working those social networking sites has become a crucial part of political campaigning. According to a new study by the Pew Research center, 36% of social media users say sites like Facebook and Twitter are either “very important” or “somewhat important” when it comes to keeping up on political news.
And social media sites are now helping candidates organize rallies, raise money, and energize their supporters, too. Four years ago, political observers agreed Barack Obama’s campaign gained an edge, especially with young voters, by aggressively using social media.
The Obama campaign is doing it again this time around. Just last week President Obama became the first presidential candidate to take part in an “ask me anything” on the website Reddit…crashing the site.
Republicans are catching up. Social media has now become a vital part of the GOP strategy. Here in a “war room” for the Republican National Committee, where the campaign comes up with a strategy and puts it into action a social media team is reaching out to voters.
“They’re going on to their smart phones, going to Twitter, sending conversations out there and not necessarily knowing who it is that’s going to respond back to them but just to be able to have that conversation.”
Conservative groups are also creating web videos and games to win over supporters, like this Angry-birds spin-off, “Angry Voters.”
Both sides are trying to reach the 66 percent of people who are on social networks, and of course, young voters. But overall President Obama’s camp is still posting more content than Romney’s.
Recent scientific polls have Romney and the President is a very tight race. But if you just looked at social media President Obama is ahead, with 28 million “likes” on Facebook and 29 million followers on Twitter.
His rival mitt Romney, who has just 6 million Facebook “likes” and 1 million Twitter followers. Even so, social media experts say those “followers” and “likes” don’t necessarily mean votes.
“Liking a candidate on Facebook doesn’t signify that much, any more than putting a bumper sticker on your car or wearing a campaign button doesn’t really signify that much.”
Clicking the like button or following a tweet is a lot different that showing up to vote on election day.
Shelby Holliday, Channel One News.