Did you watch election results come in live on Twitter last night? Did you use Foursquare to checkin at the polling booth? Social media was front and center for the 2010 midterm elections yesterday in the United States, with both old and new media relying heavily on social media to augment their coverage. We take a look at the different news organizations’ approaches to election coverage, and make some predictions about what will be reincarnated for the 2012 presidential election two years from now.
Nieman Journalism Lab did a fantastic job of rounding up the multitude of approaches that new and old media took to election coverage. We’ve divided up their list into traditional and new media, and provided an overview of what each outlet did to make their election day coverage unique.
- The Washington Post – Anyone who was on Twitter over the past few days will have noticed the #Elections promoted trend on their homepage. The Washington Post purchased this trend, making it the first news organization to do so on Twitter.
- The New York Times – The New York Times created maps and charts that monitored yesterday’s elections that are viewable on the iPad. They also created a Twitter visualization that tracks election talk on the social network.
- The Wall Street Journal – The Journal did 6 hours of live coverage of the election last night, available online as well as on the iPad.
- Pollsters – The plethora of stats that come out of elections has a new challenger: sentiment analysis. Using real-time data gathered from cell phones and the internet, this is a new, and still un-perfected, way to measure the nation’s feelings towards an election.
- Twitter – Twitter itself took an active role in this election. While not covering news, the social network did encourage voters to report their experience at the polling booth using hashtags #votereport and #NYCvotes for those in New York. Twitter users could also post the #ivoted hashtag to encourage their followers to vote.
- Foursquare – Foursquare took the same angle as Twitter, and used the power of social to get people to vote. It offered an “I Voted” badge to anyone who checked in at a polling booth yesterday, and created a real-time map showing who voted and where.
- Facebook – The social networking behemoth targeted all 18+ users in the US with its 2010 election participation, posting a note to their walls reminding them to vote, and giving them a polling location finder.
The biggest thing we noticed when examining the media roundup for the 2010 midterm elections was the prevalence of social media. It’s self-evident that social networks would be using social elements in their participation in the election coverage, but traditional media relied largely on social media, too. Twitter and the iPad come out on top as the two most-used new/social media by traditional media this election season.
It looks like Facebook is on the decline in terms of political use. Not to say that reaching out to voters and reminding them to vote isn’t a productive use of the social network – but just that traditional media didn’t seem to think it would be effective to utilize Facebook heavily in their coverage. As traditional media still paves the way for journalistic standards and political coverage, it’s safe to say that Facebook wasn’t the social network of choice for the 2010 elections.
The variety of ways that Twitter was used to monitor voters and the voting process makes it the social network of choice for politics. Users can choose to follow a number of hashtags, as we discussed earlier today, which give insight into different geographical, political, and institutional takes on the election process and results. Twitter is also useful for sentiment analysis, the pulse of the nation, in real-time. And finally, Twitter Places could be a viable source for mapping voter turnout at the polls.
Foursquare did some pretty interesting things with mapping voter turnout, but it needs to grow its userbase in order for the visualization to track more closely to the actual turnout.
In the upcoming 2012 presidential election, it will be interesting to see what social media experiments from this election season are upgraded, modified, and implemented. Foursquare has made it clear we can expect to see another voter visualization map, and, if promoted tweets and trends are here to stay, we can expect Twitter to have an even larger impact. Mobile media is also something to watch, as iPad and other similar devices become more ubiquitous.
Did you use social media to keep up with yesterday’s elections?