Social media tools gaining ground in elections: report

ncosocialmediaFor candidates in a municipal election, being an incumbent seems to offer more of an advantage than social media tools – at least for now.

This information was highlighted March 30 with the release of the latest policy brief of the Niagara Community Observatory (NCO).

The brief, titled “The Use of Social Media in the 2010 Niagara Municipal Election,” showed that while a little more than one-third of candidates in the analysis used some form of social media, the usage of these tools was not found to be statistically significant in determining the electoral success of candidates.

The same analysis, however, shows that of the candidates studied, 91 per cent of incumbents were re-elected.

Author Doug Hagar, an NCO research assistant, noted that the use of social media tools may not have an impact in the outcome because senior citizens, who are more likely to vote than their younger counterparts, are less technologically savvy. That means they are potentially less likely to use social media platforms when deciding on their vote.

However, recent surveys have shown baby boomers and seniors are increasingly tapping into social media and maintaining some sort of online profile.

The NCO data offers a valuable baseline for measurement of social media use and interactivity in future municipal elections.

Highlights of the eight-page report include:

  • the sample analyzed included all mayoral candidates for the 12 municipalities, and a random sample of candidates for regional council and all municipal councils, for a total of 105 candidates
  • 35 per cent of candidates surveyed had a website; 26 per cent had a Facebook profile; 10 per cent used Twitter; and 9 per cent used YouTube
  • Hagar devised and employed an interactivity scale for social media tools, and found that on average, social media platform interactivity scored a little less than 2 on a scale of 1 to 5
  • incumbents who used Facebook and websites were elected at significantly higher proportions than challengers
  • candidates using two or more social media platforms were elected at a 60 per cent success rate

Read the full report

Related story:
Study examines social media in municipal elections | The Brock News

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