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Politics in Social Media: Do We Listen to Our Networks?

Super Tuesday. Personally, I like Fat Tuesday a little bit better, but I guess this Tuesday is pretty important too. I guess.

10 states have their primaries today. It got us thinking – in our socialized world, how much of a role does social media play in politics?

Take these numbers for example: 25 million vs. 1.5 million. The metric being measured? Facebook fans of Obama vs. Romney.

Regardless of your political stance, one has to wonder how much influence that could have on a potential election.  A recent Huffington Post article believes very little.  Granted, many Facebooks fans may not be registered, of age to vote, US residents or what have you, but they still have a voice and the ability to post whatever they want (fact or not) for the 16% of their friends who will actually see it.

The bottom line, to me as a registered voter, is that people are consulting their networks for a lot of decisions – a ClickZ study says that 74% of consumers who received advice about a product from their social network found it to be influential in their purchase decision – can’t the same be said for their information seeking on politics? Especially the new, young voters who get their news from Facebook? And isn’t the whole idea of politics (that makes a lot of us shudder) that politicians are selling themselves as a product of their history?

One more point before we move off Facebook – 50% of 35-44 year olds are active on social networks, so the argument that prime voters don’t engage in social doesn’t hold water either.

Now Twitter: you want proof that people are engaged, take the fact that last week alone, topsy.com reports said that there were over 103,000 mentions in one day for Mitt Romney (winning Arizona). If all of those people reach their network and that network retweets and so on, our comprehension of those impressions quickly loses quantifiable proportions.

Impressions matter. We learn as marketers that impressions turn to branding association. I propose that the more you hear that your socially addicted best friend (who lives in a different state and is terrible at using the phone) LOVES xyz candidate and can’t stand abc candidate, the more likely you are to adopt that mentality…after you all, she is your best friend…and she got the website link to her information from the guy she had a crush on in middle school, so it’s obviously credible.

Maybe a voice doesn’t always convert to a vote, but it could influence someone who will.

Has social media influenced your political views, access to information, or dare we be so bold: your opinion?