November 06, 2012

Social Media for President: Tracking the 2012 Election


If you are one of the few believers that social media is not a major influence in our lives, this election is about to prove you wrong. I can guarantee that you cannot log on to any major social media site today and not see news feeds filled with election-related statuses and updates. From party-neutral voices to issue-focused concerns to die-hard party opinions, the theme of today’s social media buzz is: vote.

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have changed how we keep up with major events. Most recently, superstorm Sandy became the No. 2 topic on Facebook of 2012 and broke Instagram’s record of photos shared, with about 800,000 photos tagged #Sandy.  The second presidential debate had more than 12 million posts between Twitter and Facebook, making it the third most posted-about event ever, ranking only behind the Grammys and the MTV Music Awards.

About 40 percent of Americans are using social media to engage in politics, according to a Pew Research Center Study. Social media allows for real-time fact-checking for candidates’ talking points and constant access to information.

There are many roles social media is playing in this year’s election. Hate it or love it, it adds an extra outlet for people to freely voice their opinions. It’s also significantly motivating voter education efforts, designed to increase the number of people casting votes and making informed decisions. It also does what it does best, share information in real-time.

Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and HootSuite are just four social networks that have dedicated entire pages to tracking the 2012 U.S. presidential election.

Facebook’s page, www.facebookstories.com/vote, tracks people using Facebook and voting. There is a constantly growing count of how many have voted as well as locations, votes per hour, gender and age comparisons. This map is a representation of people on Facebook who clicked an Election Day prompt to share with their friends that they're voting in the 2012 U.S. election. The map displays bursts of activity as people share that they're voting. The size of each burst matches the number of people voting in that region right now. The histogram shows a record of activity over time, with an additional breakdown by gender and age.

Twitter’s trending topics are already dominated by the election. #ivoted, Happy Election Day, Ohio and a promoted #VoteObama have been the top trends since this morning. In an attempt to consolidate the millions of tweets and information thrown out into the Twitterverse, users can visit twitter.com/hashtag/election2012 for a real-time feed of tweets. The page includes top people related to the election, a constant, self-refreshing feed of tweets and the latest photos about Election Day. There is also a space dedicated for users to tweet from their account directly from the election Twitter page.

Combining both Facebook and Twitter and adding more social media management, HootSuite’s election command center is your go-to source for everything election on social media. Powered by HootSuite's new Command Center, a robust, multiplatform solution that centralizes and streamlines the management of all social activities in one central hub, hootsuite.com/2012-election-command-center includes tweets from candidates, mentions, how many people “liking” (32.02 million) or “talking about this” (2.402 million), first lady candidates on Twitter and Twitter sentiment for the candidates, from “Affection Friendliness” to “Humiliation Shame.”

FourSquare’s page, www.ivotedmap.com, allows users to check in, include the #ivoted hashtag and get a limited edition “I Voted” badge. As of 1 p.m. EST, there were more than 78,600 total check-ins and 33,000 total locations. In addition to the total number of check-ins and locations, the page shows a gender comparison of who is voting. FourSquare’s election map also offers the ability to share the map, connect the app and locate yourself and find where you can vote.

There are also plenty of apps out there to get a real-time feed of how the election process is going. Presidential Election Race 2012, The New York Times Election 2012 and VoterHub are just some of the many apps created for this momentous day.




Edited by Brooke Neuman



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