With just weeks to go until the 2016 US Presidential Election, it's clear that social media now plays a significant role in the electoral process.
No matter who you support, who you despise - or who you wish would just "be quiet" - there's an endless supply of tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram images and YouTube videos to variously inform, annoy or enrage. But how do you make sense of it all?
First off, you need to decide if you think social media can help you stay informed. If the answer is "no", you can just stop right there. But if the answer is "yes" then here are a few suggestions:
- Follow a popular hashtag or hashtags - Some popular hashtags this election season include #election2016, #debates, #debates2016, #trump, #clinton, #donaldtrump, #hillary, #vote, #nevertrump, #hillaryemails
- Explore some new hashtags - There's an exhaustive list of hashtags (warning: some are NSFW) on the Top-Hashtags.com website.
- Create a Twitter list - This is simply a way organizing the Twitter "firehose" so that it's more manageable - by viewing a list you're only seeing the tweets of the people you place on that list and not all of the people you follow on Twitter (for more on how to create a list, see Using Twitter lists from Twitter). Who should be on your list? A good place to start is adding the Twitter accounts of the candidates, their proxies and their official campaigns. After that add people you think are informative and helpful.
- Like the Pages of all the major candidates - Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Jill Stein and Gary Johnson
- Like the Pages of the political parties - Green, Libertarian, Independents, Democrat and Republican.
- Use filtering functions to exclude certain kinds of posts - Socialfixer can be used to eliminate all political debate from your Facebook feed, but you can also use it to cut down on certain types of content. See How to filter politically sanctimonious Facebook posts from your news feed.
- Use the USA Today/Facebook Barometer - This will help you gauge which candidates are doing better or worse based on Facebook activity (likes, shares, mentions).
- Follow the Instagram accounts of the candidates - Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein
- Subscribe to the YouTube accounts of the candidates - Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump
I hope this is an useful primer. Please feel free to post other social media tips around the elections in the comments.
This post originally appeared on the Fixitology blog.