Tag Archives: Facebook

Winning Young Voters Through New Media Tactics

The presidential election is less than one month away, and hundreds of grassroots organizations are encouraging young voters to get to the polls. Rock the Vote is a nonpartisan group that focuses on engaging 18- to 29-year-olds with voter drives on college campus and at rock concerts. The organization represents the intersection of young people, politics and popular culture, and works with artists to grab the attention of young people and engage them in the political process. The organization’s mission is to “engage and build the political power of young people in order to achieve progressive change in our country.”

Rock the Vote has successfully registered more than 2.3 million young people on its Web site. Although the organization still uses traditional tactics to register new voters, such as door-to-door canvassing and phone banking, it has also leveraged new media tactics to bring young people to the polls. The organization recognized that 18 million 18- to- 29-year-olds have a Facebook account. Therefore, Rock the Vote has used four features of Facebook to reach its target audiences: fan pages, events, groups, and advertising. The organization’s fan page has over 48,500 fans and includes videos, photos, blog posts, and a link to register to vote.

The organization also has a MySpace page with music, videos, event updates, and links to register to vote. Rock the Vote’s YouTube site has more than 100 videos of celebrities encouraging viewers to become engaged politically.

Rock the Vote has also partnered with AT&T to reach young voters using text messaging. The organization conducted a poll in February that showed 85% of 18- to 29-year-olds own a cell phone, while only 75% own a landline phone. By collecting cell phone numbers on its Web site, at its events, in its e-mail newsletter, and through voter registration, Rock the Vote will send text messages (to supporters that opt-in to do so) on the day before voter registration deadlines as well as the day before the election.

Rock the Vote’s campaign success shows how important it is to use new and traditional tactics to reach younger demographics. Organizations need to use both to effectively expand their reach.

Facebook Takes the Crown for Students’ Favorite Web Site

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I’ll admit it: I’m a Facebookaholic. I cringe at the number of times I visit the social networking site every day. I’ve considered deactivating my account to gain back precious hours I spend browsing the site, but the thought of no Facebook gives me anxiety attacks. No mini feeds? How will I ever know what my friends are up to?

I’m not alone. I can breathe a sign of relief. There are millions of other Facebook addicts out there. Youth Trends recently came up with its “Top Ten List Report,” and Facebook was students’ favorite Web site for the seventh straight quarter. More than 1,000 college students were asked to name their three favorite Web sites, and Facebook was a winner among 74% of females and 60% of males.

CollegeHumor, Break, and Digg all experienced gains this year among men, while the rise of Perez Hilton’s blog was the biggest surprise among women voters. YouTube was in the top five for both groups. What does this study say about college students? Well, the majority of us love social networking sites and visit them frequently.

A study conducted by Harris Interactive, Inc. in July of 2007 shows that 54% of college students visit social networking sites such as Facebook daily, 26% watch videos on sites such as YouTube daily, and 22% read blogs daily. Therefore, it’s no surprise that marketers are experimenting with social networking sites to reach their target audiences. According to eMarketer, a projected $1.6 billion will be spent on advertising to social networking sites in the United States in 2008.

Facebook is no fad for college students. As Youth Trends’ study suggests, social networking sites are here for the long haul.

Barack Obama: The Busiest Social Networking Bee

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This is the first presidential race where social media sites like YouTube, Facebook, and MySpace will impact what users see and know about a candidate. While remaining presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and Mike Huckabee have all jumped on the social media bandwagon, nobody seems to understand the power of social media better than Barack Obama.

Obama was the first presidential candidate to capitalize on the strength of Facebook; the first to have a profile on Eons, the MySpace for baby boomers; and one of the first candidates to have a profile on LinkedIn, a site for professional networkers. Obama also ventured onto BlackPlanet.com and MiGente.com, popular social networking sites in the black and Latino communities. In addition, Obama has joined the conversation on AsianAve.com and GLEE.com.

Obama has 583,956 supporters on his Facebook group, 286,233 MySpace friends, 6,661 followers on his Twitter account, and 12,036,832 views on his personal YouTube page. These numbers are far greater than his rival Hillary Clinton, who has 119,653 Facebook supporters, 183,492 friends on MySpace, and 1,351,685 views on her YouTube page.

Not only do these social networking sites let Obama and other candidates keep users up to date on their campaigns through pictures and videos, but they also allow candidates to gauge the pulse of their audience and know where to steer their campaigns. These sites allow candidates to appear more human by giving viewers insight into their hobbies, outside interests, and passions.

Barack Obama has reached out to more social networking communities than any other presidential candidate. Therefore, there may be a case to be made connecting his online expertise to his strength among younger voters.