Is Twitter having an impact on Georgia politics, including today’s T-SPLOST vote?

I’ve been fascinated lately by Twitter — its potential and its limitations in commerce, in politics, etc.

I don’t post this to advocate for T-SPLOST in the Atlanta region, but check out this tweet (embedded using a feature introduced months ago) from last night:

Mayor Kasim Reed has over 25,000 followers on Twitter, but he’s sent fewer than 800 tweets. Compare that to Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who has sent over 17,000 tweets and has 1.17 million followers. Reed’s tweet embedded here has been retweeted 66 times, giving it an even broader reach. But Booker routinely gets dozens of retweets even for simple inspirational messages.

I follow right at 1,300 people and organizations on Twitter, but I don’t read everything — not even close. I briefly skim the most recent activity a few times a day. I have over 900 followers, but some days I’ll tweet a link to a new post on my blog and will get not one single hit as a result. So I think it’s easy to overstate Twitter’s reach; even large numbers might translate into very little actual activity.

And is there anything about a message like this that would make someone actually get up and vote who wasn’t already planning to?

But at some point — clearly in Booker’s case and maybe in Reed’s — Twitter must have some real power. And it’s quick, direct, and free.

I’m sure some of you out there have studied this a lot more than I have. I’d be curious to hear a few thoughts.

6 comments

  1. griftdrift says:

    It’s an interesting question. Here’s what I think.

    The effectiveness of twitter and overall social media on campaigns is overestimated. The one area of exception I’ve seen is name recognition. Beyond that, it’s effectiveness, at this point, is at best -unmeasurable.

    If you build your entire campaign around social media (I’ve seen it tried), it’s doomed to failure.

    However, in a close election, say under 1000 difference, as I believe tonight will be, it could very well swing it one way or another. But we just don’t have enough data to analyze yet, so this is speculation ( albeit speculation based on experience )

    Bottom line is twitter is another arrow in the quiver. One that should be used but not counted on. But since there is no cost to use, it should still be used.

  2. Spacey G says:

    Why no one has done any exit polling on the impact of social media and actual votes/voter behavior is beyond me. I really wish just one org, any will do, would pony-up the resources to conduct such questioning/polling – in Georgia. I think even we slow dumb southerners have evolved to such a point whereby social media must be having SOME kind of impact on voter turnout and voter decision-making. Now if our austute polsters would evolve too… and get us some actual data. I’ve been whining about lack of such (geo-specific) data since they invented Twitter and Facebook though. Ain’t seen none yet.

    • Bill Dawers says:

      Since so much polling is done by or for traditional media companies, is there a disincentive for pollsters even to ask the most basic questions?

    • A social media question would be an excellent exit poll question. Do local media pay for exit polling here in Georgia? Perhaps we could prevail upon them to add such a question.

  3. CobbGOPer says:

    I work in digital media and I have yet to actually use Twitter. It’s not that important.

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