Pros and Cons: Social Media and Elections

How Does Social Media Affect Elections and Campaigns?

In the last few decades, social media has transformed the very nature of elections and campaigns, offering a place for news, discourse and election information. As a result, social media now holds significant potential to influence the results of elections, regardless of their size or scope.

Those holding elections, such as unions, universities, homeowners associations (HOAs), cooperatives and credit unions, can take advantage of social media to improve voter turnout and help members stay informed about the event. Let’s take a look at how you can effectively leverage social media in elections, and explore the pros and cons of going social.

How Does Social Media Affect Voting?

Social media has become home to all sorts of information. About 82% of adults in the United States say they often get news from a digital device – with roughly ⅓ of adults saying they regularly get news from Facebook. Members can read about the issues being voted on, the candidates in an election, or information on where and how to vote. They can also interact with this content, voicing their agreement or disapproval or asking questions.

The interactive and communal nature of social media can be especially powerful for elections and campaigns. Voters often use these platforms to discuss their position and share their support. For example, an “I voted” image can remind other voters to submit their ballots or create peer pressure to encourage voting.

In an age of digital voting options, social media and election campaigns go hand in hand. You can even use social platforms to promote online voting tools themselves. An HOA, for instance, could create a post with a direct link to e-polling, so users can securely vote on the issues from their computers or mobile devices. Where a news article might not gain traction, social media posts can earn likes, reactions and shares that put voting resources in front of more eyes.

In short, social media creates a space for voters to interact with elections in ways that would have been impossible just a decade or two ago. The ability to connect and engage with a diverse audience in real-time allows for the rapid dissemination of information. fostering a shared sense of belonging and encouraging active participation. This engagement is one of the biggest reasons why it is so important to utilize social media in elections and campaigns.

Pros and Cons of Capitalizing on Social Media to Boost Election Turnout

For organizations holding elections, social media might seem a little daunting. Fortunately, with the right precautions in place, you can leverage the capabilities of these platforms to empower members, enabling them to make better-informed decisions. This, in turn, can lead to an improvement in voter participation.

Some of the useful ways you can use social media in an election include:

  • Encouraging participation: When your organization holds an election online, make sure to encourage members to share their participation on social media during the voting process. Members can tell their friends and family on social media that they voted in the election. This sharing can build awareness, serve as a reminder, and provide a subtle push to other members, encouraging them to cast their votes as well!
  • Promoting your election on your own social media accounts: If your organization is on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media channels, you should absolutely be using those communication lines to promote election participation among members.
  • Educating voters: Along with encouraging participation, you can use social media to educate voters on how to vote and the background of the campaign. You might talk about different ways they can submit ballots or candidate bios. Just be sure you stay unbiased and share information in a neutral manner.
  • Soliciting feedback: Pay attention to social media channels and be part of the conversation members are having about your organization’s election. Make note of the praise, and work to improve criticisms. Let members know you’re listening and, when possible, make their suggestions a reality.

With tactics like these, you can gain additional participation and capitalize on “social pressure” for a more valuable, engaging election.

Of course, you must also consider the cons of using social media in elections, including:

  • Your organization’s bylaws: Some organizations will have specific requirements or restrictions around social media posting. Read your organization’s bylaws carefully and be very cautious around your campaigning rules.
  • Platform-specific requirements: Social media platforms also have their own sets of rules you’ll need to follow. While organization-run elections may not have the same limitations as political elections, you must still follow the platform’s guidelines. For example, you generally cannot include any hate speech or misinformation that could cause harm to others. Always abide by the rules of your platform and maintain excellent internet etiquette.
  • Moderation requirements: You’ll also want to keep an eye on the conversation happening on social media. You can respond to questions and concerns and engage with your audience, but this moderation requires an additional time commitment. Depending on the topic, you may also need to step in to keep the conversation civil and courteous.

When you can make your organization’s rules line up with the benefits of social media, you can end up with more engaged members and increased participation in your elections.

Boost Your Election Turnouts With the Right Tech

Social media is an excellent way to boost awareness of your election and help your voters make more informed decisions. It pairs especially well with modern voting technology that allows you to conduct secure, real-time online voting. Survey & Ballot Systems provides a comprehensive suite of solutions for conducting online, combination and do-it-yourself voting, along with other valuable resources, to facilitate well-informed elections with high turnout.

Reach out today to learn more about our solutions and how SBS can help you maximize your social media channels for your next election.