Without a doubt, the rise of social media has completely changed the way we communicate with one another. Talking to your friends isn’t a simple matter of making a visit or picking up the phone anymore. Sometimes, we even forego the option of email. All of this is in favor of the quickest and most convenient way to get a particular message across. Enter social media.
We share what we’re doing at a given moment on Twitter, make new “friends” and share personal information on Facebook and share cartoons and GIFs on Tumblr. But it’s not just a personal tool anymore—companies use these outlets to reach out to stakeholders and customers, and so do Presidential candidates!
So, let’s discuss how social media played a part for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney leading up to and after the 2012 Presidential election. The perks of using social media as a communication medium is that it is cheap, convenient and reaches a large, vast array of individuals. It is no surprise that both the candidates’ campaigns and the general public took to their computers, tablets and smart phones to put their messages out there as well.
Social Media During the Debates
During the debates, we did most of the legwork. Whether it was PBS and Big Bird or ‘binders full of women,’ Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook users had plenty to talk about. Many users got extra creative, making animated GIFs, detailed Photoshops, and, in some cases, even halloween costumes. At the same time, many made their political affiliations known via social media posts linking to articles or videos and then proceeding to argue about them with friends on their feeds.
Night of the Election
This continued on election night. The L.A. Times reports that the 2012 election was the most interactive one of all time. Those following the election had their pick of news sources—television, news websites showing live feeds, and, of course, social media. Facebook was inundated with activity (306 million people) as conversations on November 6th were at the highest volume of the entire year. Part of what made social media appealing for folks tracking the election was the feeling that they were part of the action. Engaging each other on Facebook, Twitter (attracting an impressive 11 million people) and other platforms created more of a conversation among people, as opposed to sitting and passively staring at the TV.
As the result became clear, re-elected President Obama’s campaign took to social media, famously tweeting “Four more years” with a photo of President Obama and Michelle embracing. This record-setting tweet has over 800,000 retweets (the most of all time).
The social media sphere absolutely blew up following the announcement both that night and the following day. Remember how we said political affiliations were made known? Well, so were feelings about America in general. Facebook played host to many of these, which included everything from “So proud to be an American” to “So disappointed in my fellow countrymen.”
Every side had something to say, and the opportunities to voice these opinions were limitless. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and social media in general are changing the way we engage. At this point, it’s hard to even remember life without them! What role will social media play in the next Presidential election? Might we be able to cast our votes via Facebook or Twitter? Hey, it might be in the realm of possibility! Let us know what you think in the comments below.