Tuesday 24 April 2018

Social media at the Ballots

Today’s the day—you’ve turned in your ballot, proudly displayed your “I Voted!” sticker on your shirt and … updated your Facebook status?

That’s right. Even more than in the 2008 general election, social media is redefining how we consume, parse and express politics. From voting pressure on social media to campaign-adopted viral memes, social media is in many ways becoming the pulse of American political discourse. Kate Zimmer, VP Strategy at Edelman Digital Chicago, shared some trends she’s noticed:

Mainstream political memes

Within minutes of the “binders full of women” and “you didn’t build that” lines, memes filled streams and news feeds all over the country. Interestingly, despite billions of ad spends by each campaign, these memes spread more virally and ignited more conversation than any political ad—all for free. They were even adopted by the campaigns in an attempt to get a handle on viral messaging being spread about the candidates.

Social “momentum” bringing larger turnout

Facebook introduced an “I voted” button to encourage turnout in this election. However, with Facebook Stories presenting real time data of people telling Facebook that they voted, News Feeds (not to mention Twitter and Instagram feeds) have been inundated with political statements, and “I voted” buttons. This political-social saturation seems to be correlated with reported long lines and heavy turnout at the polls. Did the political saturation in social media over the past few months fuel voter participation?

Instagram in the ballot booth

Instagram and Twitter feeds today filled up with pictures of long lines, large turnouts and many users took pictures of ballots, which many of these “social citizens” found out today is a felony offense in many states. Should it be illegal to take pictures of your filled ballot?

Be sure to let us know trends you’ve been noticing in social media as the U.S. continues to vote!

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