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Rhode Island Candidates with the Most Social Media Reach

Saturday, February 08, 2014


Facebook and Twitter are part of the puzzle -- how important is social medial in a candidate's campaign?

Where do the 2014 Rhode Island Gubernatorial and Providence Mayoral candidates stand in terms of social media presence --  and what does that mean for the outcome in November?

"It makes little sense for candidates these days to set as their primary goal to obtain more followers than his or her opponent. Even teenagers have become more discriminate in their social media use and no longer gage popularity solely on the number of Facebook friends and Twitter followers," said Rhode Island College Professor of Communications Valerie Endress. 

With the election cycle in full swing, GoLocal looked at who has the most Facebook likes, Twitter followers, and interactions -- and talked with political communications experts as to the importance of social media in a campaign.  

See Who Has Most Facebook Likes, Twitter Followers BELOW

Endress addressed the race to gain more "likes" and "followers" -- and said that candidates should be more concerned with the audience itself.  

"The ultimate goal is for candidates to capture the interest of opinion leaders--journalists, millennial political junkies who will work for campaigns, and other politically minded citizens who will repost campaign messages," said Endress.  "This sort of targeted strategy will yield far greater results than an obsession with numbers."

In terms of what the campaigns put out on Twitter and Facebook, Endress said, "Every candidate searches for the social media 'sweet spot.'  How much is too much? That's the key question. There is no magic number."

Endress continued, "In highly competitive races, followers will tolerate a greater number of postings if the messages constitute "news. " Candidates often make a mistake by focusing on quantity rather than quality. For example, filling space with extraneous information such as inspirational quotes-of-the-day is a mistake made by inexperienced campaign staffs."

"The public is much more likely to tolerate more frequent postings if it's news they can use--such as announcements of campaign events, articulation of the candidates position on key issues, a well-placed critique of an opponent's position, etc," said Endress. "Yet, there's still too much of a good thing. Candidates have to be discrete about their messages. Smart campaigns will keep a close eye on the number of followers. When that number begins to decline, it's an indication that the social media strategy isn't working."

Old School vs. New School

Indiana University sociologist Fabio Rojas released a study last August which analyzed tweets during the 2010 Congressional election cycle -- and found that candidates with the most tweets won the election over 90 percent of the time.

However, Rojas told GoLocal that only after "thinking about the fundamentals," should a candidate then turn to social media.

"A voter is not going to change their mind based on a tweet," said Rojas. "Social media is not the silver bullet that people want to believe. I think of it as a thermometer as to how a candidate is doing."

Referring to the basics, Rojas said, "It's all about starting with fundamentals. You've got to get to the registered voters - it's all about that list. They've got to figure out among that list who they can count on to show up. And when it comes down to getting someone out, you have to do something to get them out of their chair to the polls."

Rojas spoke to the role that social media -- mixed with traditional politics -- played in President Obama's campaigns.

"The clever thing about Obama was it was a mix of old school -- and new school," said Rojas. "Facebook was used for fundraising, but then there were meetups. The moment I knew he was on a whole other level is when I got a knock on the door from someone from the IBEW who was there to say," I'm here to make sure you're voting for Obama" - and that was months ahead of time. They clearly identified thought a database that identified me as a likely voter.

New Trends in Social Media

"Social media is dynamic. I tell my daughter, when my grandfather was around, there were no telephones," said Rojas. "Compare that with today -- every couple of years there's a new innovation with communication. I guarantee something new is on the horizon, we just haven't seen it yet."

Endress spoke to new trends in social media gaining traction. "We've seen a growth in social media platforms such as "Thunderclap," that are designed to connect like-minded voters and allow social media users to recruit followers to join campaigns. The White House has experimented with this particular platform and we'll see further development and use of these tools in the future as more and more citizen groups and campaigns take advantage of these efficient methods designed to connect a message to a voter."

In the meantime, Rojas said that social media monitoring could help a candidate in a race that might not have the resources to put towards extensive polling.

"My research has shown that social media is a "buzzometer" of a politician's strength," said Rojas. "It could be useful to keep track. A decent quality poll can be $5000, $10,000. If you track online, you can get a rough estimate of where you're at, for much less." 


Related Slideshow: RI Candidates with the Most Social Media Reach

Prev Next

10. Lorne Adrain

Candidate for Mayor

Campaign Facebook Likes: 439
Campaign Twitter Followers: 208

Total: 647

How Social is the Adrain Campaign?

Talking about on Facebook: 78
Campaign Tweets: 26

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9. Jorge Elorza

Candidate for Mayor

Campaign Facebook Likes: 1,287
Campaign Twitter Followers: 573

Total: 1,860

How Social is the Elorza Campaign?

Talking about on Facebook: 74
Campaign Tweets: 180

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8. Brett Smiley

Candidate for Mayor

Campaign Facebook Likes: 1,461
Campaign Twitter Followers: 704

Total: 2,165

How Social is the Smiley Campaign?

Talking about on Facebook: 27
Campaign Tweets: 289

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7. Michael Solomon

Candidate for Mayor

Campaign Facebook Likes: 1,341
Campaign Twitter Followers: 987

Total: 2,328

How Social is the Solomon Campaign?

Talking about on Facebook: 643
Campaign Tweets: 1,086

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6. Daniel Harrop

Candidate for Mayor

Campaign Facebook Likes: 1,460
Campaign Twitter Followers: 1,100

Total: 2,560

How Social is the Harrop Campaign?

Talking about on Facebook: 34
Campaign Tweets: 862

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5. Clay Pell

Candidate for Governor

Campaign Facebook Likes: 1,672
Campaign Twitter Followers: 1,077

Total: 2,749

How Social is the Pell Campaign?

Talking about on Facebook: 1,738
Campaign Tweets: 31

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4. Allan Fung

Candidate for Governor

Campaign Facebook Likes: 2,176
Campaign Twitter Followers: 2,810

Total: 4,986

How Social is the Fung Campaign?

Talking about on Facebook: 146
Campaign Tweets: 1,154

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3. Ken Block

Candidate for Governor

Campaign Facebook Likes: 4,516
Campaign Twitter Followers: 884

Total: 5,400

How Social is the Block Campaign?

Talking about on Facebook: 1,328
Campaign Tweets: 1,665

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2. Angel Taveras

Candidate for Governor

Campaign Facebook Likes: 3,544
Campaign Twitter Followers: 3,209

Total: 6,753

How Social is the Taveras Campaign?

Talking about on Facebook: 51
Campaign Tweets: 325

Prev Next

1. Gina Raimondo

Candidate for Governor

Campaign Facebook Likes: 3,870
Campaign Twitter Followers: 3,965

Total: 7,835

How Social is the Raimondo Campaign?

Talking about on Facebook: 547
Campaign Tweets: 531


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