Social Media in Election 2012, Plus Data, Targeting and Field: Now in C&E

December 7th, 2012

Howdy folks, the lastest Campaigns & Elections TechBytes column is out, and it’s all about the 2012 elections. Written just after Election Day, it focuses on a few of the tech tools that actually mattered in 2012, starting with social media. And not just the campaigns’ use of social media: I’m just as focused on what we did as citizen journalists and advocates.

But I’ll argue that the really interesting (and significant) role of social media in 2012 wasn’t what the campaigns did; it’s what we did. Social media lived up to the “social” part of its name this year, in that the cumulative effect of what millions of people did on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube impacted the course of the election. Romney’s 47 percent remarks? Those were dug up by Jimmy Carter’s grandson and published in Mother Jones—effective because of the visceral impact they had on the millions who watched them on YouTube, spread them on Facebook or (later) saw them on TV.

Likewise with “binders full of women,” a phrase that 20 years ago, when the same handful of white men analyzed presidential debates on TV news, may have passed by essentially unnoticed actually had a lasting impact. In 2012, when Twitter has turned all of us into pundits and propagandists, quick-thinking digital activists had created a Twitter feed, Facebook page and Tumblr blog within minutes of Romney bringing up the “binders.” The Facebook page alone had more than 200,000 fans in less than 12 hours.

But wait, there’s more: the piece also looks at data, particularly as it was used to target both advertising and field outreach. And don’t miss the list of losers to go along with the rundown of winning technology — gotta recognize the zeroes AND the heroes.


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