On Election Night, score a victory for traditional media
While people used social media to share Election Night comments, a surge in news site traffic and robust TV viewership showed so-called legacy media are still the preeminent sources for news.
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The live element of Election Night gave a huge advantage to television, points out John Robinson, former editor of the News & Record newspaper in Greensboro, N.C., and adjunct journalism professor at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.Skip to next paragraph
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“People get their quick updates on Twitter and Facebook, but they tune in to watch the events unfold live on television,” he says. “This is what the legacy networks already know from their sports events,” he adds, “where people will tweet and text during the event, but they stay tuned to watch it unfold in real time.”
And he says he watches as his students, using online searches, find and pass along content originating on sites belonging to major newspapers such as The Los Angeles Times and New York Times.
However, he points out, herein also lies the dark cloud growing around that silver lining.
“Many people, especially younger users, will tweet information and updates they found at the legacy media, but less and less do they either credit or even know the legacy media outlet that produced the information in the first place.”
This disconnect from the original source of information has serious consequences for outlets that rely on branding and advertising for their financial survival, Mr. Robinson says.
Perhaps equally important, while students in the Ohio study say they may glean more information from the more static, one-way model of traditional media, social media are more likely to move them to action.
“In terms of the youth vote in Ohio, clearly the Obama campaign’s effort surrounding social media paid off,” said William Even, professor of economics at the Farmer School of Business. “As our student survey revealed, social media is increasingly important in shaping political outcomes. While the majority of students continued to rely on traditional media for information on the presidential election, he adds, “social media seems to have had a larger effect on getting people to vote.”
The shift to more emphasis on social media will continue to grow because it appeals to our most basic desires to connect and engage, says Mike Gisondi of Socialbakers.com, which specializes in social media analytics.
Both candidates understood that their campaigns would be made or broken on the Internet and not on TV, he says via e-mail, “although that didn't stop the enormous media buys.” All Internet activity is essentially social, he says, because there is always a feedback mechanism, “be they likes, comments, shares, follow, etc. People feel a part of it. They're engaged, they interact, they feel they have a voice.”
Repetitive commercials are a one-way ticket to desensitizing and eventually disengaging a voter, he says.
Social media, on the other hand, deliver more connection. So while TV advertising in the US, for example, reaches 78 percent of the US on average, he says, and social media only 20 percent, “that 20 percent is more likely to be engaged.”
IN PICTURES: Election Day 2012 – America Votes!