Header graphic for print
Real Lawyers Have Blogs On the topic of the law, firm marketing, social media, & baseball

Could 2012 be the last social media election?

Social Media ElectionThat hardly seems possible with what we’ve witnessed over the last few months.

Social media seems only to be on the rise when it comes to elections and presidential campaigns. From Paul Sloan (@PaulSloan) of CNet on the role of the Internet on the election:

  • The last presidential debate was good for 105,767 tweets per minute.
  • Both campaigns turned to online ad targeting and social media in unprecedented ways.
  • A Pew Internet & American Life Project study this year found that 66 percent of the adults using Twitter and Facebook do so in part to conduct civil and political activity.

The media lauded President Obama’s use of Facebook in 2008. That, when Facebook had 100 million worldwide users. Today Facebook has one billion users worldwide and 171 million in the U.S alone.

Using Facebook was as obvious as running TV ads [this year]. After all, Facebook now boasts more than 171 million users in the U.S. alone. Importantly, Facebook can influence voters. A recent study, led by the University of California at San Diego and based on the 2010 election, found that peer pressure mattered: People seeing that their friends had voted did, in fact, make them go to the polls.

Twitter was in its infancy during the 2008 election, used by only a few crazies like me. Not the case this year per Sloan.

Tweets drove real donations. In a study Twitter conducted after the first presidential debate, the company said that people exposed to any kind of political tweet were 98 percent more likely to visit a donation page as the average person on Twitter. Not only that, but the average Twitter user is 68 percent more likely to visit such a page than the average Internet user.

Get-out-the-vote tweets abound. Twitter is all about personal influence, and this election some of those with the biggest influence — celebs such Ashley Judd and Justin Bieber — are urging their tens of millions of followers to vote.

But per widely recognized American entrepreneur and investor, Marc Andreessen, speaking with Sloan, we’re approaching the point where social media and the Internet won’t be the topic of discussion with elections. What’s unique will no longer be unique.

There is going to be a national election that is going to be about the Internet the way that 1960 was about TV for the first time with the Kennedy/Nixon debate. That hasn’t happened yet. Best guess would be 2016, but could be 2020 or conceivably one of the midterms 2014 or 2018…When that happens, everything changes. The spending will tip, and the campaigning methods will change.

What’s going to be the catalyst is anyone’s guess says Andreessen.

It might be social media, it might be live streaming high-definition video, it might be an AMA [ask me anything] on Reddit — or some new form of micro-targeting of voters — or some new form of lifecasting. I don’t think we can guess yet.

Where does Andreessen think we’ll be in a decade?

I think it’s obvious that the 2024 election will be conducted entirely online. The entire thing, front to back, all the advertising, and most likely including voting itself. Between here and there things should be very interesting.

‘Interesting’ is a an understatement.

Image courtesy of flickr by League of Women Voters of California.