How social media can help candidates boost election chances

Wellington, Aug. 5(ANI): A new study has revealed that there is a significant link between social media support and a candidates' share of vote in the elections.

According to the study conducted by Waikato University researchers, politicians' and candidates' online support didn't necessarily translate to votes, Stuff.co.nz reports.

Research author Dr Michael Cameron said that the 2010 general election was so 'one-sided' for National, with a strong incumbency effect; they had concluded that social media only had an impact in the tightest of races.

Cameron said that maybe social media makes more of a difference allowing candidates a chance to get themselves known.

City councillor Angela O'Leary would again be using social media as a key part of her campaign and said that while it may seem that 'votes' on social media don't translate the candidates are still engaging like never before.

First-time city council candidate Jason Howarth will also be using the medium as part of his campaign and said that being one of the younger candidates it's a media form he is familiar with and it should make it easier to engage with people of a similar age.

The research measured support for general election candidates on both Facebook and Twitter using the number of 'friends' and 'followers' they had, two months and one month before, and on election day.

Cameron said that overall the results suggested that social media only had a practical effect in elections that were likely to be closely fought.

He further said that candidates would be well advised to invest more heavily in social media when the election race is likely to be tight. Moreover, investments should be made early in the campaign, because changes in the size of social media following appear to have a greater effect over longer time horizons.

Cameron expected that with local government elections, often featuring massed candidates in each ward, the effects of social media could well be amplified, the report added. (ANI)

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