The presidential campaign trail is on the move, not from state to state, but through social media. Social media has evolved to the point where people can follow the presidential candidates via outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.
The evolution of social media allows Americans to build relationships with the candidates, relationships that were not obtainable through television or radio. Prior to the social media boom, television, print and radio were the only means of learning about what the candidates had to offer. Today, people can follow, like and tweet their favorite candidates, all from their phones or computers.
Young voters have grown up with social media, and it is their main source of learning about what’s going on in the nation. This year’s candidates have turned to social media as a way to connect with the younger voters.
“People seem to want to spend time when they are on Facebook; it is like we are looking for ways to waste time,” said William Eccles, a Weber State University sophomore. “We are much more likely to read an article or a post on Facebook than go look up other information online.”
President Barack Obama gained his fame last election through the use of social media. This election year, Obama’s social marketing team has stepped up and invested plenty of resources to keep the president connected with his supporters. Obama leads his opponent in followers on all social media outlets. He currently has more than 20 million Twitter followers, 29 million Facebook likes, 1.44 million followers on Instagram and 237,000 subscribers on YouTube.
“I follow President Obama on Facebook and Twitter; I value everything the president has to say,” said Sheli Scadden, a WSU freshman. “It’s important to know what your candidate has to say. How can you support them if you don’t know what they stand for?”
Opponent Mitt Romney is behind Obama in followers throughout the various social media platforms. Many supporters don’t see this as a threat to his campaign, however.
“Obama has been president for four years, so of course he has more followers,” said Jillian Peak, an Ogden community member. “People had to follow him to figure out what the heck he has been doing.”
Romney currently has more than 1 million Twitter followers, 8 million Facebook likes, 42,000 followers on Instagram and 22,000 subscribers on YouTube.
“I like following Romney on Instagram because the pictures are always positive,” Peak said.
Both candidates have made it possible to show support though widgets. The widgets can be downloaded and shared on websites and blogs, and include “pledge to vote” and “donate now” badges.
With the presidential candidates being the punchline of many jokes, young voters don’t have to look far to find music videos summarizing the last debate. The comedic videos can be found throughout YouTube, along with the numerous memes that are viewable on most social media platforms.
“Candidates should campaign to younger voters,” Eccles said. “We are the future, and we should be involved enough to know what each candidate stands for and which candidate stands for what we believe in. That is our responsibility as a citizen.”