Social media providing word-of-mouth publicity for candidates, says Reputation Advocate Managing Director Steven C. Wyer.
Reputation Advocate, a successful online reputation management firm, has watched carefully as social media continues to shape this year's election. While Facebook and Twitter played significant roles in the 2008 election, candidates and supporters alike have turned to social media to drive this year's campaigns.
According to Wyer of Reputation Advocate, each candidate's followers speak to how active their supporters are. President Obama has garnered more than 21 million Twitter followers and more than 31 million likes on Facebook, while opponent Mitt Romney has more than a million Twitter followers and more than 11 million Facebook likes.
However, sheer numbers aren't the only factor to consider. President Obama may have amassed more followers, Reputation Advocate's Steven C. Wyer points out, because he's been in the Oval Office for the past four years. According to Wyer, the candidates' engagement level may be a more important factor. While it is relevant how many people are following and liking a social media page, it's also important to understand how long those visitors are staying, and whether or not they view videos or post comments before clicking away from a site.
Both candidates have social media sites that are regularly updated, allowing visitors to catch inside glimpses of the campaign trail. This personalizes the social media experience, says Steven C. Wyer, making the candidate seem more accessible.
According to the Managing Director of Reputation Advocate, an estimated two million tweets per week are being sent about the election, and those tweets are predicted to make an impact, come Election Day. Wyer points to recent information from OpenSite that states four out of ten people will use social media to make a decision on election day. With many adults now getting the majority of their election news online, social media sites provide an important opportunity for supporters to provide information to those in their networks about the candidates and their issues.
There is a backlash, however, according to Reputation Advocate. Data from OpenSite states that 14% of users of social media sites have unfriended or blocked someone due to incessant political postings. As in real life, on social media politics may be a subject that needs to be avoided or risk alienating others.
For social media users posting on behalf of a business or company, this is particularly relevant, says Wyer. An individual's postings serve as a reflection on the business as a whole. If a business owner prefers to only do business with those who believe as he or she does, posting political views on a company website may be fine, but most companies want to be able to attract and retain a diverse customer base by keeping politics a personal issue.
In this election, Facebook and Twitter seem to be the primary focus of many election-followers, but Google + and LinkedIn are also viable resources. If you're on LinkedIn and interested in finding others who support your candidate, consider joining a group of other followers of that candidate.
Reputation Advocate's Steven C. Wyer suggests that with each election, information technology will play a more important role. Social media postings will just not encourage voters to cast a vote for President Obama or Mitt Romney, says Wyer, they are also poised to convince them to hit the polls on election day-and that is a move that benefits the entire country.