Social Media Play Bigger Role In Election, But Effectiveness Is In Question

By Queenie Wong
The Mercury News

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Despite the popularity of social media, some voters are skeptical about the information they read on facebook, twitter and other platforms. Some political scientists question how effective the flurries of text, photos and videos are at attracting or swaying undecided voters.

The Mercury News

Republican Donald Trump wants to #LockHerUp. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s supporters are standing their ground days before the election, declaring #ImWithHer.

More than in any previous presidential election, experts say, social media are playing a key role in the fight for voters’ hearts and minds.

Town halls and rallies are still important, but the front lines in the battle for the White House are shifting as more people get their news on social media.

“Social media is more of a doorway to the rest of the campaign. You get your hard-core supporters to follow you on Twitter and Facebook, and the goal from that point is to get them to share your stuff with their friends,” said Laura Olin, who was the social media director for President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign and is now a marketing consultant for Precision Strategies. “A message they get from their friend is more compelling than a message they would get from a campaign.”

From January to October, 109 million Americans on Facebook generated 5.3 billion likes, posts, comments and shares about the election, according to the company. Campaigns are also tapping into the audiences on Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn and other sites.

But voters are skeptical about the information they read on social media, and some political scientists question how effective the flurries of text, photos and videos are at attracting swaying undecided voters. When discussing politics with people share their views, about 59 percent of social media users found it stressful and frustrating, while only 35 percent found it interesting and informative, a recent Pew survey found.

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