Social media can help win elections

John McCain's Twitter account courtesy of cigar-blog post

I tweet. You tweet.

Does your state representative tweet?

In a recent trend, some politicians are becoming more tech savvy in an effort to reach voters. Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube make up a large chunk of the average Internet user’s time, according to politico.com.

Facebook alone reported 200 million active users as of April 2009, according to blog.facebook.com, and some politicians want a piece of the pie.

On the battlefront to save his Senate seat, Sen. John McCain (R- Ariz.) updates his Twitter and Facebook daily.

Dubbed a “digital genius,” McCain hits home as the number-one ranking senator of digital skills, according to politico.com. The study, conducted by George Washington and New York universities, found the 73-year-old Republican to have the highest “Digital IQ” in the Senate.

The Digital IQ index combined senators’ use of social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube with the frequency they post, as well as their followings, to judge their fluency and success in social media.

President Barack Obama's Facebook page courtesy of boncherry.com

Proven successful by President Barack Obama’s online presidential campaign, social networking and digital media literacy is a powerful tool in today’s political arena.

With 47 percent of adults and 73 percent of teens and young adults using social networking sites, according to graphics.ms, it would be foolish for politicians to discount the powerful influence they could have on connecting with voters.

McCain’s current 668,606 “likes” on Facebook and the constant bombardment of Obama advertisements littering the sidebars of my Facebook homepage make apparent the changing trends.

The traditional newspaper and television advertisements are falling out of favor. Americans spend more and more time using laptops and phones with access to the Internet. Newscasts are provided by YouTube and Twitter clips, and our favorite ads grace the sidebars of our e-mail. The world is a-changing, and so must our politicians.

While Obama pioneered social media networking, making the Democrats cheer, they have fallen behind the curve. Republicans, currently a minority in the Senate, grew significantly more than Democrats in the area of social networking, with 3,000 more Twitter followers and 20,000 more Facebook “likes” than their Democrat counterparts, according to politico.com. GOP senators have experienced a 6.7 percent month-to-month growth on Facebook, compared to the 3.6 percent for Democrats.

These numbers exclude McCain, whose success skews the findings.

McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, was wildly criticized for being out of touch. For a man so out of touch, he now leads the pack on social media networking, and if the Democrats fail to step up their presence on popular sites, they may soon find themselves left behind.

Published by The Bona Venture on Sept. 10, 2010

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