Remember those MTV ads urging viewers to Rock the Vote? You know, those ads where they got hip celebrities who could connect with the young public on screen, and urging young viewers to go out and do their civic duty? Well now politicos are looking to connect with the younger generation in a different way, going right to heart of their audience’s preferred method of communication. So rather than turn to TV Ads, they’ve turned to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, hoping to connect with the next generation of potential voters.
Call it a sign of the times, but right now New York City Mayor, Mike Bloomberg‘s campaign is urging online supporters to “tweet out the vote,” in order to draw a stronger base of supporters.
In fact Bloomberg had devoted a small portion of his mega budget to search ads promoting his Twitter account. He’s targeting Google ads to people in New York City who search for “Twitter,” enabling the campaign to automatically update their Twitter accounts to say, “I support @mikebloomberg for re-election!”
What’s more, Bloomberg’s campaign is asking voters to “donate” their Facebook status through a similar message to be posted on Election Day. But of course with any mention of Bloomberg comes mention of his gargantuan spending habits. In fact he was recently reported to have spent more of his own money on a campaign than any other individual in United States history in the pursuit of public office. So this begs the question, do you need money to make a social networking campaign successful?
Let’s look at a politico in Hoboken to help answer this question. Mayor Dawn Zimmer is operating on a shoe-string budget. Zimmer’s campaign cannot afford to to run ads online much less buy TV and radio spots like Bloomberg. What she can do however, is count on social media efforts, specifically Facebook and Twitter as key components of her election strategy. Zimmer’s camp is made up of a three-person team who work to disseminate messages inexpensively, build grassroots volunteers, and neutralize misinformation.
And for both Bloomberg and Zimmer, despite the gross difference in their campaign budgets, social media seems to be working. Like Bloomberg, Zimmer has far more followers on Twitter than her six opponents; she has close to 165 while the others each have fewer than 50. Bloomberg has more than 12,000 Twitter followers while his closest opponent, Bill Thompson, has only around 900.
While we have not yet seen if a politico’s number of Twitter followers can be correlated to a mayor’s number of votes in an election, the numbers are still worth taking a good hard look it, and so is a tool that is virtually free! Social media is a way to get out your campaign messages and issues in real time, and communicate with a new set of voters you are trying to reach. It’s a way to combat falsities almost the minute they happen and it’s a way for people to digest campaign information in a quick and understandable form. What’s more, Twitter and Facebook are free, so no matter how many campaign dollars are pumped in or out of campaigns, in social media, the playing field is leveled. Regardless if Bloomberg or Zimmer win, you can bet more and more politicians will urge to “Tweet the Vote. “