To Those Still in Denial: The Importance of Social Media

Author: Erica Klemens
Published: September 27, 2011 at 3:48 pm

With the advent of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Meetup, social media’s influence is growing, particularly in the realm of politics and campaigns.

According to a recent study, Facebook users are 43% more likely to have said they voted in an election than non-Facebook users. In the past week alone, Google sponsored a Republican debate in conjunction with FoxNews, Facebook held a town hall with House Republicans, and LinkedIn arranged a town hall with President Barack Obama.  Furthermore, social networks like Facebook are increasingly hiring lobbyists and forming political action committees (PACs) to support candidates of their choosing.

According to the NY Times, “Both Facebook and Google spent more money on lobbyists in the second quarter than ever before, another sign that the two technology giants are concerned about getting attention in Washington. Google increased its spending on lobbyists to $2.06 million in the second quarter, up from $1.48 million in the first quarter.”

Throwing money around isn’t the only way social networking sites are influencing the political scene.  One of the biggest benefits of utilizing social media is that it’s free.  Candidates and campaigns can now reach the public in their own homes and sites like Twitter provide a platform for quick response to issues in the media and elsewhere.  In fact, Twitter is among the fastest growing networks; so much so, that the Library of Congress began cataloguing tweets last year.

And studies have proven that social media users tend to be more politically active.  The Pew Internet & American Life Project conducted a study on social networking sites in America, finding that “a Facebook user who uses the site multiple times per day was an additional two and half times more likely to attend a political rally or meeting, 57% more likely to persuade someone on their vote, and an additional 43% more likely to have said they would vote [in comparison with other internet users].”

Moreover, “Users of LinkedIn are much more likely to be politically engaged than users of other SNS. 14% of LinkedIn users attended a political rally, 36% tried to persuade someone to vote, and 79% reported that they did or intended to vote.”

The moral of this story is two-fold.  (1) The power of social media should not be ignored and (2) users should be cognizant of the information they share with the world (because it just might be cataloged with the Library of Congress).

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Article Author: Erica Klemens

Erica Klemens earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, minoring in Sociology, cum laude from Drew University and a Mini-Master in Public Administration from Rutgers University‚Äôs Center for Executive Leadership in Government. …

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