Pew Research survey on social media, cell phones & campaigns

Oh, Pew, I love you.

Pew just released a survey on social media, cell phones and the 2014 campaign, and the results show the continued intersection of social media, mobile devices and campaigns.  The information below is interesting, but I wouldn’t say any of it is surprising.  Indeed, it confirms much of what we already knew: social media is vitally necessary from a political and governance perspective, and that impact is growing.

From it’s key findings section:

The proportion of Americans who use their cell phones to track political news or campaign coverage has doubled compared with the most recent midterm election: 28% of registered voters have used their cell phone in this way during the 2014 campaign, up from 13% in 2010. Further, the number of Americans who follow candidates or other political figures on social media has also risen sharply: 16% of registered voters now do this, up from 6% in 2010.

If this isn’t a clarion call about the changing method of communications in this country, then I simply do not know what is.  By the way, think this is just for young kids?  Think again:

Voters of all ages are more likely to take part in these behaviors than in the previous midterm race, but that growth has been especially pronounced among 30-49 year olds.Some 40% of voters ages 30-49 have used their cell phone to follow this year’s election campaign (up from 15% in 2010) and 21% follow political figures on social media (up from just 6% in 2010). Voters in this age group now take part in each of these behaviors at rates nearly identical to 18-29 year olds.

There is more to the study, and I highly recommend you check it out.

What does this mean for candidates and elected officials?  There are multiple take-aways:

  • Is your campaign and government website mobile-friendly?  It better be.
  • People who follow campaign news on social media were more likely to be engaged in other aspects of the campaign, like donations and volunteering – in other words, they were more likely to be part of the “activist class.”  Correlation doesn’t equal causation, so it is impossible to tell if the news makes someone more active or if they are more likely to be more active and that is why they read the news.  That being said, news on social media should be action-oriented and encourage people to do something.
  • People follow news on social media to be the “first” to hear about something.  If that’s the case, use social media for “exclusive” or “breaking news” purposes.
  • According to the survey results, people like to feel personally connected to the candidates and elected officials that they follow.  This should alter content – candidates need to be relatable.

Did you have a chance to review the study?  What do you think? Let me know in the comments!

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