Wednesday, October 31, 2012


At the doors of the next presidential election, Obama and Romney have taken different strategies to face Hurricane Sandy. While Obama decided to suspend all political campaign activities during this time, Romney, and his vice-presidential candidate decided to raise funds for Ohio victims, which seems like a strategy to get the few votes that according with the pulls they need to win the election.

In the event that “Sandy” causes extraordinary damage, the election date could hypothetically be delayed, especially in the states with more difficulties: New York and New Jersey. FEMA suggested this possibility yesterday through its administrator Craig Fugate, but he specified that political authorities will make the final decision. Federal officials said that each state has to decide because it looks like a “absence of the law”

According to the law, the elections have to be held the first Tuesday of November, and in the whole United States’ history, there has never been any exception. In Spanish we have a good knowing phrase about the political arena which translates into “you can bake the snow” which means that according with determined interests all the procedures could change. We have to see during this final week how this external factor could change the approach of each campaign, and how they will manage the possibility of delaying the vote in some states.

Like in a suspense movie, the entire world is paying attention to this presidential election, and how these unexpected events could finally determine the results, to understand how strong are the procedures in USA democracy.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Last 100 meters

           So, a few days left until the moment when America and the world will know the name of the new president of the United States. By the final months of fighting, although in fact it went all four years during the Obama stay in the White House,  the obvious recent advantage of the current president, melted before our eyes. The contenders for the top office came to the final phase, what is called, neck and neck. This is confirmed by the results of various polls  conducted after the last presidential debate, which took place on Monday, October 22 at Florida Lynn University, though not all of them are clear - some give some advantage to Obama, other state the slight advantage Mitt Romney.
            That is why both candidates immediately after the last debate, went for the votes, especially in the so-called "swing states," understanding  that they can play a decisive role in the last stage. Obama decided to spend the last election "hunt" in Florida and Ohio, Romney - in Nevada and Colorado. This is particularly important given the fact, that the electoral college brings the final result of the election (to win necessary 270 votes), which each state delegates depending on their size. At this stage of evaluation of the candidates assumption about who can receive more support from the electorate,  vary widely. For example, if The New York Times supposes that Obama has secured the support of 237 electors, and Romney - 206, then The Washington Post gives the President 255 votes, and Romney - 206.
            According to historical statistics, debates four times decided the fate of the U.S. presidential election - in 1960, 1980, 1988 and 2000. And the gap between the candidates in these cases was minimal before the debates. After their completion, one of the candidates gained extra votes, which led him to victory. Did last debates decide the fate of the presidential election for the fifth time? 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Republican Version of the Targeted Voter Application

After Billy’s review of the Obama Biden Facebook app I was eager to try the Republican version. Today I was sent the offer from Zac Moffat, Digital Director for the Romney for President, to broadcast my support for the Romney Ryan ticket with the Commit to Mitt app for Facebook.
My Commit to Mitt post on Facebook
First, there was no offer of a bumper sticker; just an official looking email requesting me to “rally your social network to help clinch the election.” Once loaded, the app provides the names of my Facebook friends that they wish me to rally.

This is where it became fascinating to me. Like Billy, I was interested in the targeting process and was very surprised to find only one person was worthy of targeting among my Facebook friends. Despite dozens of New York Republicans included among my friends, only a fellow-MPA student from a western state was identified by the app.

The next step in the Commit to Mitt process is to post on Facebook my commitment to the Romney Ryan team. The app provides a prepared design that posts to my wall and is added to my timeline on Facebook. The app also provided a place to add my own comment to the post. As you can see, I used the comment section to let my Facebook friends know that it was only a test.

The news coverage may be correct that the Commit to Mitt app works in a similar way to the Obama Biden app in targeting, but the Republican version seems deficient compared to Billy’s description of the Obama campaigns’ app. 
  1. There was no incentive to “rally” my Facebook friends. No bumper sticker or graphically appealing email. A simple email from the campaign “empowering” me to rally the voters during the last week. If supporters like me were really “the most crucial and powerful resource”, as they indicate in the email, then they might have spared the time to include a graphic in the email. Where was the incentive to engage and to use my social media clout for their purpose?
  2. Offer to download the Commit to Mitt app
  3. The Commit to Mitt app provides a place for an individual comment. To me, this just seemed dangerous.  I generally complain that Republicans tend to be too focused on controlling the message. However in this instance, and considering the repeated co-opting of hashtags during this election, I would have thought the Romney-Ryan social media campaign would have strictly controlled the posts to Facebook. The comment section provides an opportunity for enterprising Obama supporters to use the app to reach out to Republican targets with their own message.
I may be unnecessarily harsh on my party, but the Republican version of the targeting app is just lacking. Like Billy, I am anxious to compare the resulting outcomes from these two efforts. I too am betting on the Obama campaign’s efforts to be more successful. It seems that the Republicans still have a lot to learn.

How Social Media is Becoming Essential for Election Monitoring

Social media is clearly playing an integral role in the political discourse surrounding elections. Nonetheless, another role that social media is playing to a less visible extent is increasing citizen participation in monitoring the conduct and administration of elections. International treaties and conventions have explicitly emphasized that Free and Fair Elections and Human Rights are fundamental principles of Democracy. To guarantee the protection of citizens' right to cast their votes in a free and fair democratic elections, election monitoring has developed over the past two decades to become an instrumental component of any election - even in advanced democracies like the U.S. and Europe. 

Election monitoring is normally conducted on various levels: (a) domestic - where by citizens and local non-governmental organizations may witness the proceedings of months and weeks leading up to Election day as well as the conduct on the day; and (b) regional and international - where regional institutions and international organizations may recruit long-term and short-term international observers who are trained to assess the conduct and administration of the electoral process based on national legislation and the international minimum standards for free and fair elections

As the practice of election monitoring has been developing over the years, technology is key in enhancing the efficiency of observation missions. Observers have to cover large samples, across often large geographic areas, capture data from polling centers,  report observations to the central operations room - where the data is collected, organized, analyzed and followed by periodically released public statements on the overall conduct of election across the country. is a great example of the growing role social media can play in crowd sourcing and information gathering for election observation; where average citizens (not necessarily organizations) can actively engage in organizing committees and regional groups to monitor elections in specific regions and report on election violations using interactive online maps. Ushahidi is an online platform that aims at providing easy-to-use online tools for sharing information across the world especially in times of disasters or large-scale community organizing. Watch the platform video

Can you imagine how much power people would have if everyone on Twitter and Facebook and other social networks is gathering information and publicizing it to the world on the conduct of election? What if the whole world was able to see, instantaneously, any election violation happening at any polling center? This, then, would be a truly transparent election in a democracy of actively engaged citizens. This might not sound as significant in an advanced democracy like the U.S., however, there still is much to say, or so it seems, about the conduct of election - at least by people like Sarah Silverman.

Some of Sarah Silverman's famous youtube videos (although clearly partisan) are still utilizing social media to report on possible obstacles impeding citizens' right to cast their votes. A video I recently watched by Silverman was about efforts taken by more than 12 States to avoid voting fraud by passing stricter laws on voter ID's accepted at polling stations. (Please excuse the language and references made in the attached video)

The more citizens, especially eligible voters, are aware of their rights and the internationally recognized minimum standards for the conduct of free and fair elections - the more effectively they are able to stop any election violation, to report on misconduct, and to play the most important role citizens can play in an election: legitimize (or delegitimize) the process; procedurally and politically. 

In recent elections conducted in Tunisia and Egypt, young citizens and domestic election observation coalitions were increasingly relying on social media to inform the world about the developments pertaining to the conduct of elections. The whole world was able to read through the observations of active citizens who were collecting data, and using Twitter and Facebook  to share with the world(iWatch Tunisie and EASD in Egypt (Photo on the right - source) are some examples of using social media in monitoring elections). They were indeed protecting the integrity of the Election by ensuring that it was truly (and for the first time in decades) free and fair. If we look at some of the recently conducted elections around the world, one could definitely see how far social media can go in exposing misconduct in election - take the last Russian Presidential Election. Hours after the polls had opened on Election day, Twitter was flooding with photos and reports on carousel voting, fraud and vote buying. (For more on this topic: "Russians Fight Twitter and Facebook Battles Over Putin Election" - The Guardian) Although election results did not recognize such reports, social media was still a main tool used by Russian election watchdogs to organize international advocacy campaigns and get global support.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Response to the U.S. Presidential Election on Chinese Social Media (I)

Four years ago, when Senator Barack Obama (at that time) and Senator John MaCainI were competing for the 44th President of the United States, I just went through the exhausting Chinese National College Entrance Exam and didn’t (actually, couldn’t, explain later) pay much attention to this extremely exciting event in our planet. Neither did 253 million Chinese netizens, because Sina Weibo, the first Chinese microblogging website, wasn’t launched before July 2009, and Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, etc don’t work in China. People could only learn about the election through traditional media channels and there was no way, effectively or efficiently, to observe how Chinese citizens understood and even discussed about this issue.

Things have changed a lot in the past four years.

According to the trends list on Sina Weibo, still the biggest microblogs service which has more than 300 million registered users now, #American Election is the fourth hottest trend, while #Obama is the fifth. Until the blog was posted, there are 763,891 “tweets” about “American Election”, 1,248,966 “tweets” if I searched “American presidential election”, 1,338,993 posts about Romney, and “Obama” had 21,218,726 search results on Weibo.

Compared to four years ago, the United States and China are more interdependent on the national and international strategy level, not only economically, but also in more ways than most of us might think. And Weibo has also become the most important online public sphere for observers to get a sense of public opinions in China. So it’s important to look more closely at how Chinese citizens perceive the presidential election, which, unfortunately, is not happening around them, but on the other side of the earth. I decided to explore this topic in at least two blogs. So the rest of this blog will mainly focus on Chinese netizens’ response to the debates.

Presidential debate is a fresh thing for most Chinese people. On Weibo, except opinions of news outlets, professionals and people who are especially concerned about international relations, most average citizens expressed more interest in the format, the procedure, and the poll result of the debates than their content. It seems people are too unfamiliar with presidential debate to give more notice to the acute China-bashing in the three debates. Another possibility is people, especially more informed citizens are already very used to lying in politics, a few of them even fact-checked that Romney profited most from his investments in China. Besides that, many tweets mirrored Chinese citizens’ critical envyand implicit expectation for more transparent leader election, such as this article from the Atlantic. On Renren, the Chinese version of facebook, users are engaged in sharing the debate videos as interesting learning materials, the motivation behind the behavior of sharing is very obvious and simple: one is curiosity to the American presidential election system; the other is to practice their English listening skills. But this is also understandable concerning most users on Renren are university students or even younger.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Social Media Evolution: Rise of Targeted Voter Applications

Romney and Obama have rolled out a new wave of "voting applications" on Facebook this month. These social applications encourage supporters to link their Facebook accounts to the candidate's website (giving a campaign access to a wealth of personal online information) and then use the application to target and remind other likely voters (read: supporters of the candidate) about early voting on Facebook.

Several journalists have noted the release of new voting reminder applications, such as this article from The Hill , but I decided to give the application a trial run.

Obama supporters were encouraged to link their Facebook accounts to the campaign website with a free bumper sticker offer (obviously a large enough incentive for me).

Once online, the user must approve access to their Facebook profile. In addition to your own early voting and precinct reminders, the website searches your Facebook friends and allows you to send multiple reminders from one click. The website makes no mention of any voter targeting in this supposedly random suggestion/reminder tool; however, a quick analysis of which friends were given as suggested people to remind about early voting showed clear patterns. In both automated "suggested reminders" I was given a 10-20 person list of friends that are likely Obama supporters (either because of explicitly stated partisan preference on Facebook or because of their demographic information); moreover, these likely democratic supporters also just happen to live in swing states. The clever (and silent) targeting makes the application especially ingenious.

Once you select (and deselect) which friends you would like to remind to early vote, the application only requires one click to simultaneously post reminders to your chosen friends' walls (and your own).
The posted links are incredibly easy to follow and take your friend to a personalized early voting reminder and information about where, when, and how they can vote early (for Barack Obama).

My reading of the news coverage leads me to believe that the Romney application works in a very similar way (see the linked article above). This is, undoubtedly, just the beginning of more targeted, free voter turnout applications for social media. Although both campaigns have developed similar designs, I am anxious to see how usage and response rates vary based on partisan affiliation (my bets are, again, on Obama here).

Get out and (early) vote!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

What is Social Media Used For?

Social media, as it allows and encourages public participation, has become the prominent source for information. The rise of citizen journalists and the instancy of online communication enable social media generate a lot of first-hand information. The more popular social media platforms become, the more powerful they can be to influence the orthodox media. Nowadays it is already not unusual for newspapers or television programs to get news feed from the internet.

However, I cannot help but wonder, how accurate can social media be as an information provider.  News agencies are acting like watchdogs for the public. They not only tell people what they want to know but also what they need to know. In my point of view, social media is weak in terms of serving the public what they need to know. 

First of all, Audiences are passively receiving information when they are reading newspapers or watching TV and thus unable to avoid pieces of news in which they are not interested. In contrast, social media empowers people with greater freedom in controlling the flow of information. People use the internet as a media to actively search for more knowledge for whatever they want to know. In other words, people will stay informed less comprehensively on social media as they have more control over the types of information they get.   

Because of the great autonomy guaranteed by social media, it gathers people with the same or similar interests. Groups of people with different focuses narrow their attention to a few specific topics and then have many heated discussions online. It further motivates people to seek more knowledge in their favorite field, at the same time, social media fails to provide incentives for people to broaden their vision in other areas. As our speaker Zach Green mentioned in his speak, social media platforms are not the right places to change people's mind. On the contrary, it is mainly used for allying with like-minded people to stay more firmly to their beliefs.  

click here for the original source
Finally, we gets to the core question for social media: what is social media used for? To me, it seems that social media is more an entertainment/networking tool rather than a news feed. People tend to either get themselves entertained or entertain others through feedback they make or receive. Zach Green pointed out that comments online are more about complaints, sarcasm and jokes. These eye-catching conversation are usually more possible to become popular online. Social Media is about to pick up side talk. Just like the first presidential debate on Twitter, people picked up the joke about "Big Bird" made by Mitt Romney and ignore other serious points the two presidential candidates made. Like Obama's health care reform and Mitt Romney's energy/environmental strategies. 

Moreover, social media is also important to keep people connected with their friends. NM Incite, a Nielsen McKinsey company surveyed 1,865 adult (18+) social media users about their motivations to friend someone on Facebook. 82% of interviewees reported that they friend people who they have already known in real life. Another section of the survey also shows people's various purpose for using social media. 

All in all, social media may not be an ideal place for people to acquire a basic understanding towards popular issues. It's not always accurate and objective. However, it's common and easy for people to exchange their opinions after they gain some relevant knowledge. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The vice-presidential showed no clear winner

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and his rival for the Republican Party Paul Ryan on Thursday night fiercely debated foreign policy, taxes and the economy, and Biden strongly defended the current policy of the Obama administration's from Ryan attacks. The candidates disagreed on many foreign policy issues, among other things - about Libya, Afghanistan and Iran. Ryan said that reason of the death of the American ambassador in a terrorist attack at the consulate of Benghazi was that the embassy had not been provided with adequate security measures. Biden supported the existing plan to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and the administration's decision to impose sanctions on Iran to stop its nuclear development program. In addition to differences on certain foreign policy issues, be it Iran, Syria or Israel, the candidates were also divided on what should be the role of America in the world, although clearly state his position of either side fails. While many observers note that Biden spoke more convincingly, Ryan had also more than stubbornly stood his ground. The results after debate were mixed (CNN awarded the victory to  Ryan by 48% to Biden 44% and CNBC 50% to Ryan and 36% to Biden, but CBS put Biden on 50% to Ryan 31%. Each part proclaimed victory).
In my opinion, the debate of candidates for the vice-presidential showed no clear winner, but confirmed a dangerous trend for the current administration. Contrary to expectations, Biden failed to mitigate the effect of the awkwardness of his boss's speech at the recent presidential debates. Obama has two more opportunities to stop the erosion of support in swing states, and he has promised to be more aggressive and less sensitive in the following matches. Generally, nothing has been decided, but Romney-Ryan, which were almost written off after a few flops statements seem to have recovered from the 47% impact  and continue to attack

Know Thyself, Know Thine Audience: Notes on a Lethargic Left

Twitter conversations (especially among right-leaning observers) after the vice presidential debate focused on Biden's demeanor and outright laughter during the debate. Although normally everything counts when campaigning, the twitterverse is just wrong here. Biden's debate performance and the accompanying twitter reaction by the Obama social media team created a meaningful shift in apathy among democratic voters.

First, not a stunningly large crowd watched the vice presidential debate. Approximately 51 million Americans watched at least part of the debate last week--18 million less than the 2008 debate and almost 7 million less than the 1984 debate (the most watched VP debates since its televised inception). Read more about the viewership and demographics HERE .

Secondly, voters vote for the top of the ticket; vice presidential candidates may impact a race, but only on the margins. Vice presidential candidates need only show that they are competent to assume the presidency--a burden that really only applied to Ryan because of his lesser known status.

So, what was the point? Why did Biden perform the way he did (and his actions were, I argue, a deliberate performance)?  Hope. You've got to give your base hope (as Harvey Milk so famously said)--especially when you're a democrat. Democratic voters are much less likely to turnout than republican voters and this election (like all elections) will be determined almost entirely on turnout.

The timbre of the left has grown increasingly forlorn after Obama's abysmal debate performance and continued voter suppression efforts in republican controlled state legislatures--Biden's performance changed that.  Biden's performance was intentionally snarky, intentionally jarring to awaken the democratic base that must run to the polls if Obama is to maintain any chance at winning reelection. Biden's performance worked.

Although the VP debate generated considerably less tweets than the presidential debate (see ARTICLE), Biden was the center of discussion. His countenance and countless interruptions (approximately 81 in all) dominated conversation and have re-energized the left. The Obama campaign's decision to promote #malarkey on Twitter during the debate was an adept one. Obama cannot claim the same candor and energy that Biden is known for, but Obama can benefit from a new counter narrative that Biden began last week.

Biden knew who he was--an already well defined candidate known for his often erratic campaign behavior--and he knew his audience--a lethargic left.The Obama campaign knew these things as well and built a smart social media strategy around them last week. For Biden's sake, let's hope it worked.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Freedom of Speech and Peaceful Protest

Freedom of Speech and Peaceful Protest
As always, technology can be used for good and evil goals. As you know, a suspicious and dark man directed a so called film named ‘Innocence of Muslims’ to insult Prophet Muhammad and provoke Muslims all around the world. According to the news, the director of the film has some troubles due to illegal activities, has suspicious personality, and some actors say that they were not told the truth about topic of the film.
The film was posted on YouTube at anniversary of the 9/11 attacks with Arabic subtitles. Then, this event has spread quickly in the Muslim world by social media and the internet. Consequently, American ambassador to Libya and other three personnel were killed by the provoked people. This result was exactly what the creators and distributors of the film wanted.
Islamic scholars condemned the killings saying that killing innocent and irrelevant people or using suicide bombings to kill people indiscriminately are not appropriate Muslim behavior. Just as insulting Muslims and their values cannot be assessed as freedom of thought and speech, Muslims should react the insulting by peaceful protests.
Ahmet Kaya

Monday, October 8, 2012

Messaging 101: Use Inclusive Language

As an undergraduate, I studied political science and women’s studies. Much of my coursework involved the importance of language in constructing and reflecting social realities. In my political and non-profit work, I employed my academic background to create more inclusive messaging—especially in social media campaigns. Below, I offer what I have learned through my professional and academic career and argue that the best social media strategies prioritize inclusive language in their protocol.
An effective social media strategy requires short and effective messaging; however, although messaging garners considerable attention among governmental and political practitioners, too often the conversation ignores the importance of inclusive language. Incorporating inclusive language into broader social media protocol builds influential messaging that reaches a broader audience and avoids, often unintentional, alienation of key voting blocks (for political campaigns) or key constituents (for governmental agencies).

Slurs of any kind are recognized as inappropriate for social media messaging; however, they are stunningly present across social media platforms, sites such as chronicle the usage of blatant slurs on social media platforms. Although campaigns and governmental accounts generally avoid obviously harmful language, they often send more subtle messages by using dominant group generics in social media content. 

Social media content that uses dominant group generics narrows its potential audience and risks offending would-be supporters. Dominant group generics include any word that uses a dominant group (white, men, able-bodied) term to refer to everyone (i.e. those that do not belong to the privileged group); for example, using "man" or "men" as a generic to refer to people of all genders. Although exclusive language often employs gender-based generics, class, race, and able-bodied generics are also commonly used without notice.

Excluding key demographics (such as women and people of color) sends an implicit message that minority groups are not valued by the governmental organization or campaign. Many government agencies seek to serve oppressed groups on the margins of society and, thus, choosing to consciously use inclusive language reinforces many agencies’ egalitarian mission. Members of privileged groups may not notice generics, but those they exclude often do notice. For example, few white consumers may pay attention to supposedly “flesh” colored Band-Aids that match the dominant group’s skin color; however, people of color more readily notice that this generic use of “flesh” does not match their own skin.

Social media is most effective when it reaches its target audience unencumbered by exclusive language. Instituting inclusive language policies helps government bodies serve and represent all people and promotes a more equal society. Below I have listed common exclusive or marginalizing terms used in social media campaigns and offered helpful substitutions for practitioners. 

For more reading on the importance of inclusive language see:

Common exclusive language employed by political/governmental social media campaigns (and helpful substitutions):

Men, man, mankind -- in reference to the general population, not individual men (try using "people" or "everyone" instead)
"You guys" (try using simply "you" or "everyone" instead)
Chairman/chairwoman (use "chair" instead)
"Man" the booth/table/campaign (use "staff" instead)
“Freshman” (use “first-year” instead)
"Man up" (avoid using in general)

Often, campaigns use terms that assume physical ability and ignores the reality of people of disabilities, such as "step up," "take a stand" or "give a hand"
Always avoid using "retarded" in social media content
Avoid "handicapped" and "disabled people," employ "people with disabilities" instead

Practice precaution around usage of demeaning terms such as "slums" and "ghetto"
"Working poor" is a powerful alternative to terms such as "the (government) dependent class(es)" or "the poor" in general

Avoid "non-white" and use "people of color" instead

Sexually/Gender Identity-based-
Avoid "homosexual" and use "LGBT" or "gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender" (as appropriate)
Avoid references to "family" that might exclude some families (specifically LGBT families and other families that have adopted/non-biological children)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Social Media Debate Sentiment Less Critical of Obama than Polls and Press Are

Hello everybody! This might be of interest to the class:
Social Media Debate Sentiment Less Critical of Obama than Polls and Press Are

On both Twitter and Facebook, the conversation was much more critical of Mitt Romney than it was of Barack Obama. And when the criticism of one candidate and praise of another are combined, the conversation on Twitter leaned Obama's way. For further information…Please see:
As I already promised in class… here the PEJ Research study “A More Negative Campaign”. This study stresses in particular on the narratives about both candidates.

Taken together, this amounts to a highly negative narrative about both candidates in this campaign. The master narratives about Obama were 72% negative. The master narratives about Romney were 71% negative.  Only once before has PEJ seen a race that was depicted as negatively, the 2004 contest between Bush and Kerry. That year 75% of the personal narrative studied about Bush was negative and 70% for Kerry, numbers quite similar to this year. Only in 2000 did they find a narrative about a single candidate substantially more negative than this year, Vice President Gore, whose personal narrative was 80% negative. For further information, please refer to:

Discuss and Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Social Media Calls for Changes in Information Consumption

Nowadays social Media is nothing new but a powerful tool in people's lives. It not only provides us a platform for instant communication, but also casts a significant influence which changes our behavior and expectation. 

The power of social media mainly comes from the unprecedented online attention it attracts and the real-time information exchange. The death of the pop music icon, Michael Jackson, could serve as the best example to illustrate the changes social media brings to the world. On June 25, 2009 his personal physician found Michael Jackson stop breathing in his house. Soon the news was circulated online by thousands of shocked people and continued to trigger unresolvable grief. The message became a prevailing topic on all kinds of social media in a short time. People used Twitter, Facebook and many other tools online to discuss the event. Some data show that every minute 5,000 tweets were posted and 90% of them were about the death of Michael Jackson. Web page usage that day jumped to 4.2 million per minute from 2 million in normal times. All these activities resulted in a traffic gridlock on the Internet for nearly half an hour. If you search "Michael Jackson" on Google News the only information you could receive a "we're sorry" error page. This makes many people start to realize social media has become a main source to obtain information. 

Knowing that information can spread quickly and efficiently through the network, social media also become an important arena for politics. It helps to promote transparency, responsiveness and public participation in the field of politics. Social media also allows political candidates break the "equal time" rule and legally push their campaign as progressively as they want. It's not surprising that politicians put more and more attention on Internet. President Obama made his first move towards social media in his 2008 presidential campaign. I think Obama made a right decision 4 years ago, especially seeing how much influence he gains over social media in the 2012 presidential campaign: many people are following Obama's movements online and those followers are passionate to participate in discussions.  

His Republican competitor, Mitt Romney, apparently is facing a difficult time winning people's favor online. Romney and his team are always criticized as fail to emotionally connect to netizens. Some people find that messages post on social media by Mitt Romney and his team are not good enough to motivate people to participate in online conversation. This may partly explain the reason why Mitt Romney has much less online followers than Obama. (Click Here to view an interesting article evaluating influence of Obama and Romney on social media)

It's very interesting to notice how social media changes the role of politician. People who run a campaign are all expected to address a formal performance. We can see every presidential candidate is serious about every sentence they say in public speech: that's how they earn people's trust on each promise they made. Once the campaign happens on social media, the public have a different expectation on candidates. Topics discussed should be interesting enough to attract people's attention, otherwise the message candidates want to deliver will soon sink in the sea of information. More vivid expressions should be used even for serious topics such as health care and unemployment. When Mitt Romney is giving a speech on a podium, audiences want nothing but real and useful information. However, his followers online can be pleased only if he is more entertaining. 

Even though Obama is far more successful in campaigning on social media than his opponent, how much it reflects in the real world? How can we measure a person's influence online? By the number of tweet he/she publishes or by the quality of the tweets? What components are important to attract online attention? I guess we cannot get a clue about how many differences social media makes in Obama's presidential campaign until the result of voting comes out.  

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


     A new social media monitoring program was launched on 25 September 2012, trying to create for businesses, political campaigns and non-profits a new way to optimize their email lists by discovering what their subscribers are doing in social media network.  
     The tendency of the last years is showing us that companies can no longer depend only on email for online communications. By monitoring, analyzing and tracking online presence and activity across social media channels of current email subscribers, new tool will help companies create a more effective strategy to inform, engage and use their subscribers in new ways. CEO Lemieux said that the program will fill an information gap social space by providing not only users' social profiles, but also their Twitter and Facebook activity and content. It'll offer possibility to know what email subscribers were saying online by trending topics and  hashtags.
    Despite the fact that over the past years  non-profit and political campaigns confidently gaining power on the internet, their ability to motivate supporters  on participation in variety events has declined because email became less effective in recent time. The program gives the possibility to find out what your followers are saying on social media, what the topics trending among them, as a result, it creates the ability to mobilize and engage supporters and volunteers more efficiently.
   At this time the service is working just with data from Twitter and Facebook. In the future Lemieux company has  plans to add more social networks. Lemiex explained:" You can find people talking about a specific topic, export that list, such as all my users who tweeted about climate, and send them a message like, ' We're launching a new climate campaign, can you tweet about it?".