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US election boosted by Facebook

Posted on September 24, 2012

 

A Facebook message posted on the day of the US elections in 2010 resulted in an extra one third of a million voters to turn out to the polling stations. The research proves that peer pressure, especially on social networking sites, can affect behaviour in the real world as well as encouraging more people to vote.

The researchers were led by University of California professor of political science, James Fowler from the Division of Social Sciences.

As voters are crucial to the democratic process, the study looked at how social influence could encourage people to vote, in addition to behaviour in the real world. The study was based on the 2010 Congressional election and over 60 million Facebook users received a social message on their news feed on 2nd November 2010 saying “get out the vote”. In addition, users received a reminder to vote, a link to where the local polling stations were and a button saying “I voted”.

Photos were also displayed of a maximum of six friends of a user, showing who had voted. Another message was delivered to about 600,000 Facebook users, the same as the message to the other group but without photos of friends who had voted.
The group with the social message and photos were found to be more likely to go out and vote than the other groups. Social networking sites play a role in search engine optimisation for the very same reason. A company’s SEO campaign will include Facebook, Twitter and other sites whether it is based in Liverpool, UK or California US.

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