Social Networking and politics are developing a strong relationship during this current presidential race. The use of social networking as a tool to get votes is not new; social networking sites were already used by the candidates in 2004, but they were not given the importance that they have now.
So what has changed? In the first place, social networking sites were not as popular as they are now. Also, the candidates were not so active in the social networking and their profiles were more an extension of their campaign websites. Facebook now has more than 100 million users, and the more professional focused network, LinkedIn, already counts 24 million users. Politicians are also realizing that they can also get votes through using these social networking sites, as they allow them to interact with potential voters and let them be perceived as someone closer than the candidate we only see on the news. Regarding this matter, Barack Obama has asked two questions using the Questions and Answers service of LinkedIn: “What ideas do you have to keep America competitive in the years ahead?” which already has 3,108 responses and “How can the next president better help small business and entrepreneurs thrive?” which at this time has 1,493 answers.
The Obama campaign has also launched my.barackobama.com, a social networking site similar to Facebook for Obama supporters, where you can connect with your friends, create events and even create your own blog.
In many senses the Obama campaign seems to be more connected with social networking and in my opinion is doing a better job than the McCain campaign. I was able to find Barack Obama on LinkedIn, Facebook, Flickr, Myspace and Twitter. I was only able to find John McCain on LinkedIn, Facebook and Myspace.
I am not sure on how the social networking efforts of both candidates will be reflected in the elections results, but at this time, if we took Facebook as a reference, Barack Obama has 1,791,490 supporters, while John McCain has “only” 332,949 supporters. However, the main problem with these numbers is that the number of potential voters among these supporters is unknown, and if you look carefully you will notice many teenagers that are not able to vote yet and also many foreigners. If these results will have a reflection on the real elections, only time will tell.