Social Media and the U.S. Election: Consuming the Campaign


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slides from November 5, 2012, the third 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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  • HOW plus ( Does social media change people’s minds? What influence does social media use really have on citizens (consumers/audiences)?
  • A Norm: (e.g., Romney was tweeted about more) – this can sway opinion
  • What can you tell me about this candidate’s sincerity?
  • Respondents said that they could better predict how a candidate would perform in office if they had an idea of what the candidate’s personality is like This information helps constituents sympathize with the candidate
  • Take a moment to read this, raise your hand when you are ready to respond
  • Skepticism: “I just think it’s our job as citizens to be skeptical.” Candidates should provide evidence of their services Some respondents mentioned that candidates may try to appear to be a “family man” to counteract the scandals that go on with many politicians like Anthony Wiener, John Edwards, etc - Is it possible to be ever be totally authentic? Even if a candidate is being authentic, will constituents always be skeptical of whether authenticity is a campaign tool?
  • Conclusions: Electoral candidates can help shape how their constituents or possible constituents perceive them via the content that they post to their Facebook campaign pages. These are not mutually exclusive: ie interacting with constituents in an informal/offline environment can show engagement and relateability
  • Salt Lake Tribune reporter Robert Gehrke posted the first Eastwooding image on Twitter
  • Social Media and the U.S. Election: Consuming the Campaign

    1. 1. Social Media andthe U.S. Election @janelle_ward
    2. 2. Links on last week’s discussion• Substantive research on Twitter: How Political Magazines Use Twitter to Drive 2012 Election – Susan Currie Sivek• Check for more content here: PBS MediaShift’s Special Series: Election 2012• Also: Exposure or Rhetoric: Fan Politics on Facebook – Janet Johnson, Journal of Contemporary Rhetoric• Swing State Hell• The Twitter Political Index
    3. 3. Assignment from last week• Consuming the campaign: How are voters using social media to talk about the election?• *perceptions of the candidates/campaigns• *interaction with other citizens• Some ideas: – Follow your own Facebook feed & look for election mentions – Find an election-related Twitter handle/hashtag and monitor
    4. 4. How are voters using social media to talk about the election?• 1) Research (lots of research!)• 2) How citizens perceive politicians on Facebook (Gabrielle Grow & authenticity)• 3) Case study: #Eastwooding
    5. 5. 1) Research• Does internet use affect engagement? (Boulainne)• Three main theories focus on how the internet will affect civic and political engagement of citizens: – some think the internet will have a detrimental effect on engagement (internet = entertainment) – others say the internet will have a positive effect on engagement – still others argue that the internet could mobilize those that are currently politically inactive (particularly youth)
    6. 6. 1) Research• Boulainne analyzed 38 studies and 166 effects testing the relationship between internet use and civic/political engagement (focused on U.S.; studies published between 1998 and 2008)• generally found little evidence that internet use contributes to civic decline; findings suggest that effect of internet use on engagement is positive – effects more likely to be positive if researchers included “online news” as a part of internet use (so those that read the news online are more likely to be politically engaged)• conversely, civic/political engagement does not have a significant effect on internet use
    7. 7. 1) Research• Pew (released October 11, 2012): The dual screen election• About a third (36%) of Americans got debate coverage online or from social networking sites; far more (78%) say they got coverage from traditional sources, including television, newspapers, or radio.
    8. 8. 1) Research
    9. 9. 1) Research• Pew: The dual screen election• Social media platforms (FB, Twitter, YouTube) are growing especially rapidly as a source of political news. The number of Americans who say they regularly go to these destinations to learn about the campaign has doubled since January (but still just 17%).
    10. 10. 1) Research• NPR: In Twitter We Trust - research from Brian Houston and Jon Krosnick: – “One tweet at a time:” cements bonds between people, helps with information dissemination – “A whole bunch at a time:” media reports numbers and communicates a norm – The difficulty of coding for sarcasm / snark high
    11. 11. 1) Research• Pew Internet & American Life Project: Social Media and Political Engagement – a new survey (Oct. 19, 2012) finds that 66% of social media users—or 39% of all American adults—have done at least one of eight civic or political activities with social media.
    12. 12. 2) Gabrielle Grow’s research• How citizens perceive politicians on Facebook (authenticity)
    13. 13. The Role of Authenticity in Electoral Social Media Campaigns Gabrielle Grow
    14. 14. What can you tell me about this candidate’s character?
    15. 15. Research Findings• Respondents found this candidate relatable because the photo is not posed, and because they see a more “human” side to him “…it looks like an actual family photo which is refreshing, I think I can’t help but have a more positive image if I see a picture like that.” Research Respondent
    16. 16. What can you tell me about this candidate’s character?
    17. 17. Research Findings• Respondents were skeptical of the candidate’s motives for posting this Note, but also mentioned that they felt it was necessary to share this information “it’s like an oxymoron when you askfor a candidate’s character. We’re kind of attuned to being skeptical of a candidate’s character.” Research Respondent
    18. 18. Suggestions for authenticity:
    19. 19. 3) Case study: #Eastwooding• Clint Eastwood speech at the Republican National Convention – The Daily Beast; Know your Meme• Obama’s official Twitter account posted a photo of Obama seated in a chair with the caption “This seat’s taken.” (55,263 retweets and 22,589 favorites)
    20. 20. 3) Case study: #Eastwooding• During the speech @InvisibleObama tweeted for the first time, using a picture of an empty chair as its icon. (source)
    21. 21. 3) Case study: #Eastwooding• In 24 hours, over 90,000 tweets were posted about Clint Eastwood (source)
    22. 22. 3) Case study: #Eastwooding• The hashtag #Eastwooding generated 25,325 tweets in 24 hours• More than 850 Instagram photos were tagged #Eastwooding• By the next day, Eastwooding photos were featured on the Atlantic, the Huffingon Post, New York Daily News, Fox News, etc. (source)
    23. 23. Producing or consuming the campaign?• Gotye parody video• link
    24. 24. For next week• Looking ahead to our final week: • How important is/was (social) media campaigning in determining the winner? • Can social media predict election outcomes? • Stay up all night on election night and take notes!