Buying your vote, online. We’re just days away from the election, and there’s a new battleground, with candidates trying to sway voters on social media.
Social media consultant Trish Moratto said, “If you want to earn a new demographic, which is younger voters, you really need to go where they are.”
The stakes in November’s midterm are high: control of Congress. But mid-terms have historically had low turnout, forcing campaigns to get creative.
For close elections like the race for the 7th Congressional District, that means tapping into social media.
Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus are platforms used by retailers to get you to shop for their products. And now, they’re the new battleground for elections.
“The social media stuff allows us to interact with people directly, real time about issues that affect their everyday life,” 7th District Congressional candidate Doug Ose said.
President Barack Obama laid the groundwork by winning younger voters and raising money in an unprecedented way in 2008: online.
With 1.3 billion Facebook and 271 million Twitter users monthly, the opportunities are endless.
“All the political world stopped thinking about digital as a website and started thinking about it as a tool they could use to win,” said Campaign consultant Bryan Merica.
So, if you feel inundated with phone calls, door knocks or mailers, just add social media to the mix.
“You never ignore any potential voter. And we have a campaign office full of young people who are talking people to people and every vote counts. In a close election like this, every vote matters,” acknowledges 7th District Congressman Ami Bera.
TV ads and mailers can cost millions of dollars.
But reaching out to potential voters on social media is more cost-effective and allows a different conversation.
“Anything you can do to build a relationship with the consumer on their cell phone is important, because it`s a very personal way to communicate with someone,” said Moratto.
Even former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is on the crafting and food platform Pinterest.
Merica says social media gives him more information about voters: what key words they’re using, who they’re following and measure what people are doing.
Merica says, “With digital you can cut up four different messages, test four different messages randomly across audience and see ‘it`s this message on education that`s hitting’.”
It’s a way to listen to the audience, refine the message and let voters know someone is listening.
A sentiment echoed by candidates in close races.
Even counties are tapping into social as a tool.
Sacramento County has a mobile app that helps users find their polling place and other election information.