SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social media practices and issues.
This week, we asked: Do you believe that the candidates’ social media outreach efforts will have an effect on the presidential election?
- Yes: 68.99%
- No: 31.01%
During the 2012 election season, candidates for president from both major parties have been pulling out the stops to engage voters on a variety of social platforms. But will any of it make a difference when the votes are cast next week?
I think the social tools will have a sizable effect on this year’s presidential election — but perhaps not in the way you might expect. Take a look at the candidates’ Facebook pages for a second. You’ve got campaign news (including pleas for support for the victims of superstorm Sandy), slogans, appeals for fundraising, etc. It’s competent stuff, but neither side is really doing anything very exciting with the platform. It’s hard to imagine a voter being swayed by any of this stuff on its own.
But that’s not really the point of all this, is it? The campaigns’ social efforts aren’t just about getting undecided voters to consume more official campaign media or reminding supporters to turn out next week. The real debates, the real get-out-the-vote-efforts, the real conversions were never just about official media. They were also about word-of-mouth — a process that’s now being fueled online by committed supporters on both sides. The function of these official social media posts is just to prime the pump by getting supporters talking and then giving them something to say. The posts these campaigns are churning out aren’t ads in the traditional sense; they’re portable talking points.
Remember this the next time you’re designing a social media campaign for your organization. You can’t survive by just talking to your biggest fans. Those people already love you as much as they can. To really see the maximum benefit, you need to give them the tools they need to convert others. The question then becomes not “how do I engage my fans?” but “how do I help my fans engage others?”
How are you helping your fans encourage others?