I continue to be fascinated, albeit not surprised, by the blurring line between politics and technology, specifically social media. With the 2008 U.S. presidential election approaching on November 4, I dedicate my weekly roundup to a look at this connection.
In mid-August, I wrote about the role technology plays in the election, focusing on the number of people who manually opted-in to receive updates from the campaign teams of John McCain and Barack Obama.
To give a sense of the breadth of how fast things are changing, take a look at the following data that compares August 15 to today:
McCain on Facebook: 202,000 supporters
Obama on Facebook: 1.3 million supporters
McCain on Facebook: 616,000 supporters
Obama on Facebook: 2.3 million supporters
McCain on YouTube: 12,000 subscribers
Obama on YouTube: 69,000 subscribers
McCain on YouTube: 28,000 subscribers
Obama on YouTube: 112,000 subscribers
McCain on Twitter: 0 followers
Obama on Twitter: 58,000 followers
McCain on Twitter: 4,500 followers
Obama on Twitter: 111,000 followers
Blogging and video sharing content about presidential candidates is not a new phenomenon, as it occurred in 2004, but things have considerably picked up since. Evident from global bloggers showcased at Voices without Votes and the following June 2007 Canadian TV broadcast, the world is taking notice (despite the Canadian federal election having a long way to go):
While the Blog Herald provides a comprehensive list of the Best Blogs and Social Media Resources devoted to the election, it doesn’t include social networks SoMe Election 2008 or this global news site.
We must pause, though. With the dominance of people following Obama and McCain (and not even knowing how many are Americans) and the diversity of social networking and blogging sites, what does it mean?
In a story in today’s Science Daily, Paul Haridakis, associate professor of communication studies at Kent State University, says analysts are beginning to study the impact of social media on the election:
Many people will watch videos and use traditional media like TV to acquire political information about the candidates, but they also are going to the Internet and using social networking sites to see who people they know support. The information gleaned from their social networks may be the information they find most credible and persuasive.
They’ll listen to their buddy on his MySpace page, not necessarily the traditional messengers that candidates employ to reach out to the voters, or even the candidates themselves.
That exploits the power of social media pretty well. The candidates in this election season have not fully harnessed the power of these tools.
Let’s see what happens…
How have you used social media this election season? Or have you? Where do you see the mashup of technology and politics going?