Whenever a presidential election year comes around, I can’t help but think back and wonder where I was at the last election.
I was a bright-eyed college freshman. I was still working at Chuck E. Cheese’s, but quickly realizing that I needed to find a job more suited to my chosen field. I was still using MySpace, admittedly less and less as more of my friends moved to Facebook, and I didn’t yet have a twitter handle (@SmaMan, by the way). I, like most tech-savvy people then, were watching closely the infancy of Apple’s iOS platform. Remember when fart apps were the “it” thing?
Four years ago was the first election I was eligible to vote in, and in the months and weeks leading up to the election day, I felt I was getting more cognizant of political ads, and more importantly, where they were showing up.
Back then, Facebook wasn’t particularly known as a powerful advertising tool, and Twitter was little more than a web-based offshoot of IRC (kudos if you know what I’m talking about). However there were still viable ways to advertise online.
I recall seeing tons of Obama’s “Join Us” ads emblazoned on the tops and sides of many websites I was browsing. Ads for McCain, not so much.
I personally don’t agree with Obama’s policies, but I have to admire his use of the then infant social media, and the already established banner ads through Google AdWords and other platforms. He understood the Internet, and that was the pivotal difference that endeared him to many young voters.
Over the course of Obama’s first term, the GOP and other political groups realized they had to advertise online as well. The rapidly growing Twitter became an important rallying center for the “Tea Party” that burst onto the scene on Tax Day in 2009, and let’s not forget the Occupy movement.
Fast forward to today, in our very much social media-driven world, having a social media presence is basically a requirement if you even want to have a chance.
One number thrown around a lot in the election night coverage was 9,000: the number of tweets sent out from both major candidates’ twitter accounts. However, about 8,000 of them were from Obama. The other thousand were from Romney. As the Republican party takes a deep breath and begins to determine what went wrong, this 8:1 social media presence is sure to be something heavily scrutinized.
Over the past four years, social media has evolved from being “the hip new thing the young un’s are using” to something that connects all demographics across all spectrums. As more of our lives move to the Internet, having a political campaign infused with this technology isn’t just a good idea, it is essential.
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