Well, the midterm elections have come to a close. The constant commercials, media coverage, and discussions can calm down for, well, a few months at least. But as I sit here on the morning after the mid-term elections, I can’t help but notice the impact of social media and how it relates to the victories across the board. No matter what side your on, it’s clear that the social media (and the internet in general) have changed the political landscape forever. According to allfacebook.com, a staggering 3,482,253 people were fans of republican candidate fan pages nationally. Compare that to the 1,456,798 fans that democrats pulled in. Based on that statistic alone, it’s no surprise that Republicans took control of the house and narrowed the gap in the senate.
What do these numbers really mean? Can it be as easy to say that whoever has more Facebook fans will be the winner? Facebook sure seems to think so! They claim that 74% of candidates with the most Facebook fans won their contests last night. In the case of the Michigan Governor’s race, the argument can be made that the fan count indicated who the winner would be. Republican Rick Snyder was able to attract almost 36,000 fans on Facebook while his competitor, Virg Benero, only attracted 13,000. Rick won overwhelmingly by 58% to Benero’s 40%. Compare that to the percentages of fans: 73% for rick to 27% for Venero. But the race for governor in California had different results. Meg Wittman had significantly more fans than her opponent, Jerry Brown, but still lost the race.
What I am more curious to see is how the politicians leverage these sites. Republican Justin Amash has used his to showcase transparency in his office. He consistently posts how he voted on a particular bill, what the bill was about, and what the final vote was. Although he is not necessarily reaching out to “crowd source” each time he votes, he is effectively keeping his constituents informed of his decisions and why he’s supporting measures. I hope this continues when he is in Washington, and I also hope that many more elected representatives adopt social media as a way to reach out to their voters. I think that as a society, we are desperate to find transparency and consistency with our elected officials. We want results; real time results. We want to know they are working for us. And we don’t want to know what they did in a 30 second spot a week before the election. Real credibility is built over time; what better way to leverage social media to showcase what you are doing. At the end of the day, it IS our business to know what OUR elected representatives are up to. Sure, it opens the door for constant criticism, but you need tough skin to be in politics.
It’s clear from last night’s election that people want change. The funny thing is that we screamed we wanted change 2 years ago. So here’s the deal: we don’t just want change, we want to SEE Change. A successful business could never be run the way our current government is ran. My advice for the large, young freshman class: Stay connected to your supporters and be transparent. Own up to mistakes and move forward. Build the case for your re-election by staying on the minds of voters for the next two years instead of letting your fan page go dormant until your up for re-election. Show the voters your working toward change; not only will you be building a case for re-election, but you will be sticking to the principals that got you elected in the first place!
~ Christina Torri, Social Media Coordinator, Mindscape