As a former gubernatorial re-election campaign staffer, I have seen the impact of voter outreach first-hand. Media richness theory, as discussed in class, explains the effectiveness of different levels of communication with others. There’s the higher richness of speaking person-to-person and the lower level such as sending an email. In today’s day and age, communicating online over social media such as Twitter and Facebook, although a lower richness level, have proven to make a significant impact on voter outreach in battle ground states such as Iowa and New Hampshire.
My advice for politicians in this election cycle is to first of all, get on social media. Every candidate has done this already, which is a good sign. The big hurdle to jump through after that is tailoring the message based on the specific platform. Reaching out to voters by posting a photo with no link, caption or hashtag is not exactly the best way to engage with an audience.
Here’s an example of voter outreach through social media:
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) February 9, 2016
This tweet could have been made even more effective with Clinton’s hashtag #imwithher along with #newhampshire. There is a call to action, which entices the audience to want to go to the link to her website (another good thing she did was make it a short link).
Here’s another example:
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 7, 2016
This tweet has some more interesting elements of engagement because there is the use of emojis as well as a highly trending hashtag “#GOPDebate.” There’s a call to action to the live blog of the debate from Rubio’s campaign staffers. In this case, it is an effective way to communicate with the audience further.
For further discussion on the social media engagement of the presidential candidates, check out this in-depth analysis by CNET.