There’s no question that social media has played an important role in political campaigns over the last four years. According to a recent study, being active on social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook, made a “significant difference” to a candidate’s chances of being elected.
Dr. Ciaran McMahon – a lecturer in psychology at Dublin Business School – set out to examine the impact of social media on the Irish general election last February. Of the candidates polled, 78% had Facebook accounts and only 57% had Twitter accounts.
His report found that candidates with Twitter accounts receive 46% more votes than those without. Additional results reveal that candidates with Facebook accounts received 53% more votes than those that weren’t active on the social network.
“The interesting thing is that if you had a Facebook account, you were probably going to get more votes than the law of averages, and if you had a Twitter account, you were going to get more votes,” stated Dr. McMahon. “But if you had the two of them there was no bounce – there was no interaction effect.”
While the study focused on elections held in Ireland, candidates in the U.S. are no strangers to social media. In Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign he garnered a lot of attention for using social media to gain support. Earlier this month YouTube launched a new political channel in an effort to help voters track the upcoming Presidential election.
Social media platforms offer a reach beyond the television screen as well as new opportunities for engaging potential voters. It’s easy to assume that if a candidate does not have some type of social presence that his or her campaign could suffer.
Jennifer Beese: Jennifer Beese has worked as a community manager and social media strategist. When she’s not writing, you can find her studying anatomy and physiology—she literally has a skeleton in her closet—or under the stars with her telescope.