Campaign 2010: Does Social Media Matter?

Manila Bulletin, January 5, 2010 | Go to article overview

Campaign 2010: Does Social Media Matter?


Over the holiday, a volunteer group supporting the presidential candidacy of Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III (Liberal Party) announced that their candidate has more Facebook fans and online supporters than other candidates. Although the numbers are constantly growing, at one point Mr. Aquino had about 211,000 supporters. His closest rival in traditional surveys and online, Senator Manuel Villar (Nacionalista Party) had close to 165,000. None of the other candidates came close.Mr. Aquino enjoys a wide lead over other candidates. In the latest survey conducted by Social Weather Station December 5-10, slightly more than 46% of respondents said they prefer Mr. Aquino as their president. Only 27% of respondents selected Mr. Villar, and 16% said they would vote for former President Joseph Estrada (Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino), who trails miserably on Facebook with substantially less than 4,000 supporters. It’s noteworthy that in the latest poll, Messrs. Villar and Estrada moved up from an earlier survey while Mr. Aquino appeared to plateau.It’s interesting that Mr. Villar is doing much better in the race for Facebook supporters than he is in traditional surveys, and that Mr. Estrada is doing much worse. There are many reasons for the discrepancy. The obvious reason is that Facebook “support” has no scientific basis and can be easily manipulated by zealous volunteers. Although both Messrs. Villar and Estrada claim the poor as their constituency — Mr. Villar’s roots are much closer to the poor than Mr. Estrada’s, incidentally — it may be that fewer of Mr. Estrada’s truly poor supporters have access to Facebook or the Internet at all.Given the unreliable nature of the Facebook numbers, it’s fair to ask whether the social network — and other popular social media services such as Twitter and YouTube — really matter in the coming election. It’s no secret that I think they do. But it’s completely understandable that many assume this New Year’s crop of presidential candidates is flocking to social media merely to try to emulate the successful, social media-intense campaign of US President Barack Obama.Is there a better reason for candidates to try to leverage social media? Let’s start with some numbers. According to the website Inside Facebook, which measures Facebook penetration for developers and marketers, in September last year — the latest month for which data is available — 1. …

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Campaign 2010: Does Social Media Matter?
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