One of the biggest challenges for election administrators is boosting voter participation and increasing turnout. We’re, admittedly, a little bit obsessive about helping our clients increase voter turnout. That’s because the more votes you have behind decisions and candidates, the more those decisions and candidates truly reflect the views of your members and other stakeholders.
Studies show that using social media to spark participation is one of the most effective ways to reach and recruit voters. However, in our survey of associations and nonprofit organizations, social media was way down on the list of election marketing tactics.
We’ve got science behind our suggestion to use social media. On Election Day in 2010, thanks to an experiment run by James Fowler, professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego, in cooperation with Facebook, 61 million Facebook users saw a “Today is Election Day” message at the top of their newsfeed. Some of those users saw photos of friends who had already clicked the “I Voted” button, and some didn’t see any photos.
People who saw the Election Day message without the photos and references to friends were barely affected by the “get out the vote” message. However, the voter turnout for the people who saw photos of their friends increased by 2.2% — an additional 60,000 votes nationwide. Even more unexpected, 280,000 additional votes were made by Facebook users who merely saw an “I voted” update from a friend – the “social contagion” effect. Fowler said, “I expected friends to matter, but I was surprised how much they matter.”
Online social networks definitely influence political participation, and close relationships matter the most. People do what they see other people doing, especially people they know. You can use this behavioral principle to your advantage for your elections and voting events.
Besides increasing voter participation, this tactic puts your audience (your voters) to work. Voters do some of the marketing for you! We all know that word-of-mouth marketing is the most effective marketing – take advantage of that.
Retailers, like Amazon, understand this, and event organizers do too. Think of how many times you’ve seen a Facebook update from a friend saying “I’m attending XYZ event” or “I just purchased X.”
Now you can capture this same benefit of social media with eBallot Social Share. When a voter using eBallot reaches the confirmation page, they’ll see a box with social sharing options for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Once the voter selects an option, other eligible voters will see their “I voted” virtual sticker on Facebook…
…or on Twitter.
And even LinkedIn. Use social media sharing to spread the word about your elections and voting events.
That’s not all! Our new eBallot VoteNow Facebook app lets people vote right from your organization’s Facebook page. You simply attach your organization’s Facebook page to the voting event in the Admin area of eBallot and embed the VoteNow app in the page.
With VoteNow, voters have direct, easy and secure access to your ballot when they’re in Facebook. Considering how many people go on Facebook when they have free time, especially evenings and weekends, why not be there to make voting easy and convenient for them? Turn your organization‘s Facebook page into a vibrant election and voting community.
When you send out election marketing emails, remind voters that they have the option to vote from Facebook too and provide the link to your Facebook page. You can make voting part of the online conversation with social sharing and the VoteNow Facebook app.
Join us for our next Super Tuesday webinar on December 17 at 2:30 p.m. EST. Dr. Melissa R. Michelson, Professor of Political Science at Menlo College, returns for The Messenger Matters: The Power of Email from Trusted Sources to Boost Participation.