I knew there was a reason I love Twitter. According to a new study by Quantcast, Twitter users are more likely to be politically active and Democrat. And given what I do for my day job, it makes sense that I have gravitated there.
Quantcast also found that Facebook users are no more likely to a Democrat or Republican. They are no more likely than the norm to be politically active or not. But since almost every American is Facebook, we would not expect Facebook users to deviate from the population proportions.
The study also found that people who use other major social media sites are less likely to be politically active than the norm (reddit, Instagram, YouTube, Google+ & Pinterest). For some of these networks, I would suggest that they skew younger and younger people are less likely to vote (especially those under voting age). And that accounts for the lower political activity levels.
Quantcast collects data regarding age and other demographics, but they don't make clear whether they controlled for those variables or not. They do say at one point in the report, "While it may be convenient to politically characterize users of these online platforms in aggregate," which suggests they did not control for the other variables, opting to report just the cross-section of ideology and activity by network.
The Quantcast report does provide some interesting insights (as can be seen on the chart above) and the data from which the report was produced has the potential to produce a lot more insights with some multivariate analysis. This will be good for developing social media strategies for political and advocacy campaigns. The more we know about the political leanings and activity levels of the people using each social network, the better we can prioritize our attention to them during political and advocacy campaigns.
That said, we do not want to use this report to suggest that we can ignore certain sites because they are more likely to have inactive users or users who lean to the other side of our candidate or cause. The report also finds that all social media sites have a robust cross-section of left and right posts and users. And that sizable numbers on each are politically active. All of these networks offer value to campaigns.
The key lesson here is to know who your target audiences are and find them on whatever social network you engage for your campaign. Once you find and connect with them, you can recruit them to be your champions; ask them to reach out to some of their less engaged friends and to get them involved. Trust me, when a good friend asks you to consider a candidate or a cause, people are more likely to give it serious consideration than when a campaign or advocacy group asks. So even the inactive people Quantcast has identified on social media have the potential to be engaged and moved to action if you use the right strategy and tactics.