Social media has played a large part in this 2012 election. Both presidential candidates, Senator Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama, have Twitter accounts with avid followers. During this year's election events, like last night's debate, millions of users respond and, in 140 characters or less, post their political opinions, reiterations, favorite quotes etc. Just take a look at last night's Twitter tracking of the debates:
There are few other topics or events that generate that much online buzz.
Last night, as you know, unless you live in a world without cell phones, television and/or the Internet, when Mitt Rommey was describing his efforst to hire women into his administration, his description lacked what I would call poise, at the least.
"And -- and so we -- we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women's groups and said, can you help us find folks? And I brought us whole binders full of -- of women."
Binders full of women.
You've probably seen this phrase ALL over the Internet and social media outlets out of context and with lots of poking fun. That's the thing with social media, not only does it spread like wildfire, the comebacks and commentaries are ruthless.
"The 'binders full' comment was a hit on Twitter, quickly becoming a 'meme' that generated a mocking Tumblr page and prompted a Democratic group to buy up the Web site www.bindersfullofwomen.com. The group, American Bridge 21st Century, used it to list actions by Mr. Romney that the group said were contrary to women’s interests." ~NYT Politics, Michael D. Shear
There was also a Binders Full of Women Facebook page created that currently has 334,000 fans. That's in a 24 hour period.
The comment became such a popular topic on Twitter today that even celebrities were tweeting about the binder comment.
Ellen DeGeneres has over 14 million followers!
I'm not writing this post to express political opinion or beat up on Mr. Romney, but rather to exhibit how dramatically things have change in terms of election coverage and the impact social media now plays in politics.
According to the Social News Daily, the 7 million tweets recorded last night is actually down from 10 million tweets during the first debate.
"While those numbers at first site might signal a decrease in social engagement, analysis from tracking group Attention found that social network engagement was higher during the second debates with a 31% level." ~SND
Social media definitely keeps politicians in check. Comments like Romney's cannot go without criticism and rightfully so. We should be keeping our politicians in check. Same with big brands and journalists. Social media acts as the ultimate fact checker.
While Twitter isn't a platform for long dialogue, tweets are short, often with quick and comical jabs that don't always generate discussion or accurate representation due to lack of context, outlets like Facebook allow for more dialogue and comments and engagement.
Social media may just be the tool that we need in this country to get more people to vote. By generating a buzz about politics, making it a "cool" topic to post updates about. One can hope!