With the 2012 Presidential election on the horizon it is clear that more politicians, parties and causes have turned to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to promote their platforms and converse with constituents.  I had the opportunity to interview Corey Gottlieb, Managing Partner at Socialitical to find out more about how politicians are using social media to engage with potential voters, and what sorts of trends are popping up in the political social media scene.

Socialitical is a non-partisan social media platform that helps politicians, campaign managers and lobbyists effectively use social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube to identify, reach and engage with potential voters.  Because they have experience working with Political Action Committees, national committees and Presidential candidates, Socialitical seemed like the perfect source to glean on what’s going on in the world of social media and politics, from how politicians are using social media to which network is the most important for politics. Check out my interview with Gottlieb below:

Megan at Social Times: Can you provide some examples of the ways in which politicians are using social media?

Corey Gottlieb: Politicians and political organizations are utilizing social networks to find and activate the right audiences in a meaningful way across multiple touchpoints, whether that’s through rich advertisements with direct calls to engage, social video experiences without our groundbreaking video player, or social town halls – people really love to participate in direct dialogue with candidates and around causes.  Since social channels such as Facebook allow campaigns to get much more granular than traditional mediums like television, we are able to target the right constituents all the way down to zip code and furthermore understand what’s resonating, or not, amongst voters at any given time.

Megan: Which network has surfaces as the most important for politics, in terms of conversation and engagement?

It is clear that Facebook is a network that really cannot be ignored by politicians, parties and causes, the same as it can’t be by consumer brands.  The volume of people and how active they are makes Facebook a hot bed for political conversation and discovery.  Facebook has become an ambassador’s platform, where people can gravitate, activate and participate in conversations around specific candidates, elections, causes and issues.  These networks also allow for agility on the campaign trail, as you can instantly pivot messaging and tactics based on the social conversations taking place, whereas a TV spot is basically fixed for the campaign duration.

At this point in the cycle, if a candidate up for election in the 2012 race hasn’t already targeted their constituents within Facebook, they are significantly behind in the race.  Other emerging networks, like LinkedIn, Google +, Instagr.am, and Tumblr has impactful utility as well and offer the flexibility that Facebook does, but are less targeted and require more strategic insight about targeting and retargeting the right voters with messages that matter to them.

Have you seen any correlation between the social media activities of politicians and the polls?

Absolutely.  When you evaluate volume and sentiment of conversation and engagement within social mediums around debates, primaries and other campaign moments it is quite predictive.  Our teak of analysts is constantly monitoring these social media activities, extrapolating insights and building social projections for our clients that have proven to be quite meaningful and highly accurate.  The data is only as good as the analysis so that is important to remember.

However, social listening as a service is one that all in the political race should actively deploy.  It provides an unprecedented way to tap into real-time voter sentiment around key issues, parties, candidates and causes that can inform strategic decisions that could have a potentially huge impact on the overarching campaign and polling successes and failures.

But yes – it is true – there is a direct correlation.

Have you engaged with any politicians, parties or causes via social media?  What was the experience like?  Are you looking to sites like Facebook for information to help you decide how to vote in this year’s election?

Image credit: trendywest via Shutterstock.com

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.