The search for the Grail has consumed many a person over the past to thousand years, both fictional and real, so much so that “searching for the Grail” has become a meme more universal than even naming every American political scandal “-gate.” What makes the search for the Grail such a powerful meme is its combination of being a lofty goal that no one has yet achieved.
This week Governor Rick Perry suspended his campaign to seek the Republican nomination to be president. As a watcher of the candidate’s social media performance, I am not surprised. Especially in these early days, social media buzz about the candidates should be a good predictor of electability . As voters look at their choices, their willingness to engage with them in front of their friends is a good indicator of the candidates’ viability. As voters become less willing to engage with candidates, especially if their behavior suggests they are increasingly unwilling, candidates should and will consider dropping out of the race.
Candidate buzz on social media and in search engines has emerged as an interesting metric for gaging how well the campaigns are doing. Back in 2008, for example, while the last opinion poll in the field predicted that Barack Obama would win the New Hampshire primary, Yahoo Buzz correctly predicted Hillary Clinton would win. Since then, more attention has rightfully focused on the levels of online buzz about candidates as a measure of how well their campaigns are doing.
With rare exceptions, if you Google a political candidate you'll get a link to his or her Wikipedia page among the top five results. Certainly this is true for the presidential candidates, and certainly we can all understand why they should be extremely concerned about what's said about them there. And while there is great motivation for candidates to either modify their entries themselves, direct their staff to do so or hire an editorial consultant, all of these actions are frowned upon by Wikipedia’s editorial policy. As a result, “black hat” Wikipedia editors have proliferated, much to the consternation of Wikipedia. But there has also been a rise in “white hat” paid Wikipedia consultants; along with an effort to organize them, establish a code of ethics and convince Wikipedia that these “white hats” fit into the spirit of Wikipedia’s mission.
Social media exploded with outrage last week with posts decrying Walter Palmer’s shooting of Cecil the lion , with over 800,000 tweets, alone. Soon after, social media exploded with “somewhat less” outrage that there was more outrage about Cecil the lion than there was about black victims of fatal shootings . Some even took to the Twitters with the hashtag #AllLionsMatter 40,000+ times to satirize the controversy . Then, of course, #UFC190 captures Twitter’s attention with over 700,000 hashtag uses. But for all of the attention to Cecil, shootings of black citizens in the U.S. and the Ultimate Fighting Champion fight, President Obama and his trip to Africa garnered the most comments on social media last week (since last week, comments about Obama have shifted to clean energy and climate control).
Wired’s reporting on Pew Research Center's recent poll about how people get their news raises some very interesting questions about what it means to “get your news from social media”. While r eliance on Twitter and Facebook for tracking the news is on the rise, the majority of Americans still use other media to get most of their news.
This past week we witnessed two failed #Ask hashtag campaigns: # AskBobby and # AskELJames . For those of you unfamiliar with these campaigns, # AskBobby was for newly announced GOP presid ential candidate Governor Bobby Jindal (LA) and # AskELJames was for the author of Fifty Shades of Grey. If you think for a minute or two, you should be able to see quite vividly in your min d’ s eye what went wrong and, hopefully, what needed to be done to make them successes.
Who you are plays a big role in what you can, and cannot, get away with on social media. This past weekend, Judy Mozes , the wife of Israeli Interior Minister, tweeted a racist joke about President Obama. The tweet caused uproar across Twitter and across both countries. People objected to both the racism of the tweet and the potential damage it could do to US-Israeli relations. Mozes’ tweet and the reaction to it highlight several potential social media pitfalls.
Thanks to social media, we can scrutinize candidates in ways never before imagined. In an earlier post, I explored how the first four candidates used Twitter to enhance their announcements . Now, USA Today is analyzing the candidates’ first day impact on Facebook. In what promises to be an interesting series of articles, especially given the never-ending list of new candidates launching campaigns for the GOP presidential nomination, Paul Singer explores which states generated the biggest Facebook buzz for each candidate on the day of their announcement , as well as other articles exploring the relationship between Facebook buzz and electoral popularity . These analyses offer a great opportunity to compare outreach strategy for each candidate AND the response to it.
It is long past time that we stop talking about which social networks to use for this campaign or that. When it comes to targeting audiences, what matters more than which networks people use is how they use them in combination and to what end.