5 Trends That Revolutionized Politics on the Web In 2010

As politicos reflect on the 2010 campaigns, they will likely analyze the nail-biting conclusion that saw Democrats narrowly hold their majority in the U.S. Senate, but lose control of the U.S. House. Digitial enthusiasts, however, will no doubt focus on the way social media, namely Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and smartphones, transformed politics as we know it. Here is our look at the top 5 trends that revolutionized how we, the voters, engage with politicians, and vice versa.

As politicos reflect on the 2010 campaigns, they will likely analyze the nail-biting conclusion that saw Democrats narrowly hold their majority in the U.S. Senate, but lose control of the U.S. House. Digitial enthusiasts, however, will no doubt focus on the way social media, namely Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and smartphones, transformed politics as we know it. Here is our look at the top 5 trends that revolutionized how we, the voters, engage with politicians, and vice versa.

  1. Social Media Politicians, and Polling, Were Born – Forget phone calls and door-to-door communication, if a politician in 2010 wanted to reach the masses, he or she need only go online. And leading the way was Sarah Palin, whose dominance, and reliance, on Facebook and Twitter could rank her as history’s purest social media politician. She could swing an election with an endorsement on Facebook, or dictate policy in 140-words or less, and garner major media attention in the process. Also looking to social media for guidance in 2010 were the same pollsters who often found themselves the victims of Palin’s social networking ire. The clear polling trend in these midterms was “sentiment analyzing,” or using activity on social networking sites, blogs and other online conversations to measure public opinion.
  2. Facebook Ads Dominated – 2010 was undoubtedly the year that political advertising on social networks went mainstream, and nowhere was that more true than on the biggest social network of them all, Facebook. Creating your own Facebook page became old hat for political campaigns, so most took the next step of running Facebook display ads to promote their pages to garner more likes, and therefore a bigger audience for their political messages and fundraising appeals. Facebook itself reported that, overall, 74 percent of candidates with the most Facebook fans won their contests. In the 19 Senate races, 81 percent of candidates with the most Facebook fans won their contests
  3. Video Killed the TV Ad Star -
Tired of the big money and random eyes inherent in television advertising, political advertisers shifted those dollars and ads online, streaming ads before and during video content on YouTube, Web portals, and news sites. Google alone reported that “almost 500” of political advertisements on Google used some kind of video ad formats. And politicians didn’t just use the ads for fundraising, as in the past, but began to style them for persuasion and brand-building, with many designed to simply persuade voters for or against candidates. Of course, not every video was successful.
  4. Twitter Torpedoed Text – 2010 was the year politicians discovered the popularity of Twitter, and the reality that it could do more for them in 140 characters or less than a 30-second television ad or five-page brochure. Republicans dominated overall, with 67 percent of their candidates tweeting. John McCain, the 73-year old Republican Senator from Arizona, held forth as the Senate’s leading Twitter-user, as well as the body’s “Social Media Genius.” Not to be outdone, 76-year old Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) promoted his tweeting prowess via a YouTube video, promising constituents, “I’ll tweet, I’ll text, I’ll do whatever it takes. I work for you.” And, on November 2nd, “election night” quickly became a worldwide trending topic on Twitter with hundreds of thousands of Tweets rolling in, the Washington Post bought the hashtag #Election as a promoted trend, and the New York Times launched a tool that monitors Twitter for posts about candidates.
  5. Apps Were Adapted – No need to visit your local precinct or political party’s office to support a candidate, just pull out your smartphone. In the manner of 2010, if you wanted politics, there was an app for it. The GOP version, Proud Republican, gave Republcian enthusiasts access to all-things Republican, including interactive forums, Republican-focused news feeds, party history, Twitter integration, and the ability to call their local Member of Congress. Politicos on the other side turned to the Organizing for America app that delivered breaking news and allowed diehard Democrats to call their Member of Congress, connect with other Dems, review talking points to share with other voters, find events and, of course, donate to the cause. Organizing for America, the political arm of the White House, also debuted an iPhone app that digitized the tiresome task of canvassing and allowed campaigns to get real-time feedback and vote counts from volunteers in the field.