Social Media and the U.S. Election: Aftermath


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slides from November 12, 2012, the fourth and final session of the course Social Media and the U.S. Election. The course is taught by Janelle Ward and hosted by the John Adams Institute in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

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Social Media and the U.S. Election: Aftermath

  1. 1. Social Media andthe U.S. Election @janelle_ward
  2. 2. Questions we’ve kept in mind• How are political actors using social media to inform and engage citizens? • (Producing the campaign)• How does social media influence citizen/audience/consumer engagement? • (Consuming the campaign)• How important is (social) media campaigning in determining the winner? • What role does social media play in the election campaign?
  3. 3. This week: aftermath!1) The election • (Daily Show recap)2) The candidates3) The research • Does all this posting really make a difference?4) The future + broader applications
  4. 4. 1) The election• Facebook Stories: reporting a vote on Facebook• U.S. Politics on Facebook: User results: – The 2012 election received the highest score on the Facebook Talk Meter this year among U.S. users, weighing in at a 9.27 on a 10-point scale – Younger Facebook users dominated the chatter – Buzz around Election Day was just a touch higher for men with a 9.39 compared to a 9.19 for women.
  5. 5. 1) The election• U.S. Politics on Facebook: Candidate results:• Obama scored a 8.41 -- a point higher than his highest score from election season (a 7.41 from the first presidential debate). Buzz about Obama was slightly higher for men (8.56) than women (8.32) and the discussion definitely trended higher with younger users.• Romney scored a 7.83 -- nearly half a point higher than his highest score from election season (a 7.38 from the first presidential debate). Men were buzzing just a bit more than women (8.06 vs. 7.66) and once again, the chatter trended younger.
  6. 6. 1) The election• There were 31 million tweets before the results, with 327,452 tweets-per-minute at peak. (source: Twitter blog)• Before most polls closed, the hashtag "#election2012" surpassed 11 million tweets. (source)• The #stayinline hashtag spread to encourage those in voting lines not to give up.• As the results of the election were called, the conversation surged, hitting a peak of 327,452 Tweets per minute (TPM) (source: Twitter blog)• Beyonce may have broken the law photographing her ballot for Tumblr. (source)
  7. 7. 1) The election• 250,000 photos tagged on Instagram – 100,000 with the hashtag #Ivoted – 150,000 with #election2012 – Some questions raised about the legality of posted images of ballots
  8. 8. 1) The election And yet…”Throughout the long campaign season…the bulk of the campaign spending was going to TV stations …On election night…at parties and larger-scale gatherings, crowds of people gathered around, some watching Jumbotrons to get results on major TV outlets, while nobody gathered in groups to read social-media postings.” CNN won the social media battle
  9. 9. 2) The candidates:Obamas victory photo most retweeted ever
  10. 10. 2) The candidates• Obama smoked Romney in social networks• Guinness World Records: Obama broke three social media world records: – Most widespread social network message in 24 hours – Most likes on a Facebook item in 24 hours – Most likes on a Facebook item ever (source)
  11. 11. 2) The candidates: Romney’s transition site
  12. 12. 2) The candidates: Romney’s Twitter disappearance (+ losing Facebook likes)In contrast,Gary JohnsonsPost-Election Day Plan
  13. 13. The villains• Why is it that even though there are no rules on Twitter, it st• Racist tweets after Obama is reelected
  14. 14. 3) The research• A study of four 2010 races (two for Senate, two for Governor) by NM Incite found that the most buzzed about candidate won the seat - but in only three out of four races. (quantity, not quality)• In this study, buzz doesn’t appear to be a driver of voter turnout.
  15. 15. 3) The research• Recent research published by Nature: during the 2010 congressional election campaign, people were 0.39 percent more likely to vote if they received Facebook messages telling them that their friends had voted - that was an additional 282,000 votes cast.• The effect was strongest from closest (most interacted with) friends.
  16. 16. 3) The research
  17. 17. 3) The research• 2012: The Facebook bump (Matthew MacWilliams and Edward Erikson) – “Eight out of nine Senate races considered to be toss ups this year were won by the candidate with the more engaged Facebook fan base. – In six out of nine House open seat races, the candidate with an engagement advantage won. – In 11 of the 15 competitive House races where incumbents lost on Tuesday, the challenger enjoyed an engagement advantage over the incumbent.”
  18. 18. 3) The research• 2012: The Facebook bump (Matthew MacWilliams and Edward Erikson) – “…initial analysis indicates that candidates, who creatively embrace Facebook and the daily grind of building and engaging an audience, will be rewarded with a meaningful voting bump on Election Day that makes their time spent on social media well worth the effort.” (POLITICO)
  19. 19. 4) The future + broader applications• Numbers matter, but content is key, and measurement is a mess – “Follower count doesnt work because it doesnt take engagement into account. Engagement doesnt work because it doesnt take sentiment into account. Sentiment doesnt work without taking volume, engagement, geography, etc., into account as well.
  20. 20. 4) The future + broader applications• In 2016? – Will social media play a bigger role? How will it change? Influence on negative campaigning? – How will social media use change? More grassroots? More or less control by campaigns? Will more people mute politics chatter? – How will this change with two new candidates? In other political cultures?
  21. 21. Further readings• Can social media predict election outcomes? (infographic)• 9 concrete, specific things we actually know about how social m elections – E.g., “what remains special about social media is that nonelite users control distribution…The huge effect social media have in elections…is that they allow nonelites to frame and distribute content made by elites.”• 8 Big Social Media Takeaways from the 2012 Election Campaign