Twitter & Social Media Play Important Role on Election Day

Yet another huge event has passed this wonderful country of ours – this time without any destruction in its wake. The elections of 2012 have come and gone, for the most part. As I write this post, there are still a few Senate seats up in the air, and Florida has yet to be called for either Presidential candidate – although, that doesn’t really matter anymore. The Obama team has won, and we’re going to have four more years under an Obama Administration.

But this year – more than ever – the role of social media has been overwhelming. We are still on the heels of a storm that wiped out power, homes, and access to information to millions of people on the East Coast, yet we’ve managed to run an election. Before and after the storm, social media was helping rescue efforts, informing people, and providing real-time updates to concerned onlookers. Through Hurricane Sandy and this election Twitter and social media proved how powerful they really are.

Twitter was First

Most significant and most important in the evidence that social media has reached an all-time high in our country is how the President contacted supporters late last night. Sam Youngman for Reuters comments on Obama’s tweet “This Happened because of you. Thank you,” which was sent out around 11:15pm last night. He writes, “That the president would take his message to Twitter before taking the stage in Chicago underscored the tremendous role social media platforms … played in the 2012 election.” The absolute first communication to the entire country, from the president himself, came from Twitter. Think about that for a second.

I’d argue that this not only underscores the role of social media in the election, but in our lives as individuals and as citizens. If there was any doubt that social media was not an effective and meaningful method to reach people, communicate with customers, or provide a voice to a company, person, or movement, that doubt is certainly gone.

Social Media Reaches New Heights

Social media, unlike any time in the past has given us a real-time view of the pulse of the country. John Timpane with the Philly Inquirer notes that people used “social media to learn about where to vote, encourage others to vote, tell the world they voted.” Twitter itself was buzzing with activity all night with over 30 million tweets about the election.

In fact, President Obama’s “Four more years” tweet with a picture of him hugging his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, has become the most popular tweet of all time. Facebook got in on the act by encouraging people to vote and share where they voted. There is even some news this morning that this simple idea did in fact boost turnout for our elections.

Not a Surprise

For “4 out of 10 voters” to base their decisions on information “heard on social media,” as John Timpane tells us, is not a surprise. Social media has made its way into every aspect of our lives, and it’s only natural for it to explode in a political realm.

But it’s also not a surprise to see how pivotal a role it played in the campaigns themselves. There is no reason that you can’t learn from the Romney campaign and the Obama campaign. Both offer great insight about how to harness social media for your clients.

Elections Sell with Social Media

Campaigns are about selling ideas. They are about selling people. Social media proved it can sell abstract concepts this year. Both campaigns relied heavily on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social media. Both campaigns utilized a focused approach to social media outlets and it enabled them to inform, promote, and motivate people from all over the country to support and vote.

Social media can work just the same way for your clients with a focused and targeted team behind it. Social media is here to stay. I only see it reaching new heights as the years go on. It’s going to continue to be a wonderful way to communicate and inform, whether it’s about politics or business.

Were you impressed by the social media use during the election last night? What lessons have you learned?

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Patrick currently lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he is studying for a Master's Degree in Intercultural Relations. Upon graduation from Penn State in 2008, he spent two years overseas in Kyrgyzstan with the U.S. Peace Corps. While writing is currently his chosen way to put food on the table, he loves fitness and exercise, which he believes makes up for his avid computer gaming habit.

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