Social media and the 2008 Election

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A look at how social media played a role in the 2008 presidential election.

Text of Social media and the 2008 Election

Social Media and the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election

Social Media and the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election

Journal of New Communication Research

Emily MetzgarIndiana UniversityAlbert Maruggi Society of New Communications Research

2008 Presidential Election

132,645,504 Americans voted

46% of Americans used the internet, email or a cell phone to get information about the campaign

35% of Americans watched a political video online

10% used MySpace and Facebook to learn about a candidates

Literature Review

Mass Communication is changingSMCR (one-way model) is fadingAudience is no longer in isolationAudience is shifting from only media consumers to producersANYONE at ANY TIME can be a journalist

Agenda SettingThe media uses frames to ensure all reported news fits into established narrativesStories can go unreported that do not fit the narrativeSocial media is guiding mass media in directions they might not have chosenIs traditional or social media setting the agenda now?

Topics to Analyze

Social medias effect the 2008 presidential election Role social media played in the topics reported on by traditional news outlets

Issues being discussed on both platforms



Constant comparative method

Radian6: tool to track assess social and traditional media

Quantitative look at the difference between social media & traditional media coverage during the election

3 parameters for comparisonCandidate mentionsTop issuesKey words from debates

By the Numbers Comparison

Facebook (fans)Obama 2,379,102McCain 620,359

Twitter (followers)Obama 112,474McCain 4,603

YouTube (channel views)Obama 18,000,000McCain 2,000,000

Candidate Mentions

09/04/08 11/03/08

Top Issues

09/04/08 11/03/08

Key Words

Joe the Plumber


1. Mechanism for ongoing engagement

2. Issues were given equal coverage

3. Traditional & social media coverage converged

4. Difficult to identify where issues emerged first


MentionsPrint news not accounted forRadio news not accounted forNews outlets


People feel differently about the issue, but not on what issues are important

Distinction between social media and traditional journalists is disappearing

Highly relevant and cost-effective

Communal nature

Message must resonate

349 DAYS