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Consumers Turn to Social Media for Presidential Campaign Info

Candidates’ ad agencies invest more heavily in Facebook than Twitter, while Twitter wins out over blogs for more posts about the race

Social media sites play an important role in providing information about the Republican primary races and the upcoming presidential election in general. A Digitas survey conducted by Harris Interactive found that the majority of social media users turn to Facebook, Twitter and other social networks to learn more about the presidential candidates.

The younger the social network user, the more likely he or she is to check in on political events with an electronic social group—62% of 18- to 34-year-olds say they use social networks to get election information. But even 40% of the over-55 set rely on the networks for political discussion and updates. (eMarketer estimates around 44% of US internet users ages 55 to 64 and about 28% of internet users ages 65 and up are also social network users.)

“JFK is considered the first television president. Next year’s victor may well be determined by the impact of Facebook and Twitter,” said Jordan Bitterman, SVP and social marketing practice director at Digitas, in a statement.

With social networks now a mainstream way for gathering information about current events, it’s not surprising that 92% of ad agencies are likely to use Facebook in their client’s political ad campaign. In STRATA’s December survey of 13 agencies with political clients, some 46% said they were most likely to use Twitter.

When it comes to what voters themselves are saying about the candidates, a detailed study of more than 20 million tweets by Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, which examined campaign coverage and the online conversation from May 2 through November 7, 2011, showed that both blogs and Twitter differed “markedly” from the political narrative that people experience in traditional news coverage.

The political discussion on Twitter is “more intensely opinionated, and less neutral” than both blogs and news, according to Pew. “Tweets contain a smaller percentage of statements about candidates that are simply factual in nature without reflecting positively or negatively on the candidate,” a Pew statement said.

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Check out today’s other articles, “Millennials Look to Digital Word-of-Mouth to Drive Purchase Process” and “Facebook Solidifies Lead in Spain.”

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