Oct 05, 2011 Ami Olson Uncategorized
The advantages of using social media to promote a political campaign are obvious: candidates can reach a new, often younger, demographic of voters and interact with them directly in real time in a more personal, humanizing way than a palm card allows.
And many candidates have figured that out, and used it to their advantage. But what about here on the local scale?
I scoured Internet search engines, Facebook pages and groups, and Twitter usernames to find out which local candidates were using social media. The results were somewhat surprising and definitely varied.
Many candidates opt for using Facebook as more of a directory listing than an interactive platform, posting their picture, an email address and not much else. Others go all out and use Facebook and Twitter accounts to share news stories, promote fundraising events, and engage in conversations with their potential constituents.
Then there are some candidates (well, one in particular) who don’t see the purpose of sharing even a phone number or email address with voters until after they’ve been elected, and rather gruffly demand why they should be sharing their contact information with the public. (Yikes.)
Voters can’t cast educated votes if they don’t know where the candidates stand on issues. And if you can’t connect with your candidates, how can you learn about their positions?
Seems simple enough, so I set out to create a simple compilation of which candidates are using what social media, if any, and how actively.
These charts reveal some of the results. (Similar charts for 5th Judicial District State Supreme Court candidates and Syracuse City School District candidates are available online at theeaglecny.com.)
Onondaga County Legislature candidate Bob Andrews (9th district), who’s running his first-ever campaign, is one of the handful of social media super-users voters will see on their ballots come Election Day.
Andrews said although maintaining Facebook and Twitter accounts can be time consuming, the effort has been worth it.
“I know not everyone uses social media but it cannot be ignored when trying to communicate my message and introduce myself to people,” Andrews said in an email. “ I set up my Web page and Facebook accounts the moment I decided to run. By setting them up it made me define my campaign, hone my message for fresh perspective, and build a place for my supporters [to] express themselves.”
Delilah Fiumara, another first-time candidate, is running for one of four open spots on the Syracuse Board of Education.
She said last week she was in the process of establishing a Facebook page (she was going to skip a traditional website) to supplement her number one campaign method: going door to door.
Looking for social media information for Syracuse City School Commissioner of Education and NY State 5th Judicial Supreme Court seats? We’re still working on compiling the information for those candidates, so check back for the completed charts soon!
“I think, in today’s world especially, a lot of people communicate that way and you will get lost if you don’t,” Fiumara said.
What do you think? Does having access to a candidate on Facebook, Twitter or another form of social media help you learn about their positions and help inform your vote? What does it say to you if a candidate does, or does not, engage in social media to reach voters?