NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A national study released Thursday has found that social media has been a critical tool in political campaigns.
Researchers from Duke University and Northwestern University examined how Facebook and Twitter played a role in voters’ behavior during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The study, titled “Elections and the Rise of Social Media,” shows that social platforms like Facebook and Instagram were crucial to winning over voters.
The study found that the use of social media increased the level of engagement with voters, who also reported that their messages were being shared.
They also showed that the more engagement with a particular social media platform, the more likely they were to vote.
“There was a trend for a higher level of voter engagement than there was before, and it was particularly strong for social media platforms,” said Dr. Christopher Kline, a professor of political science and director of the Duke Center for Politics.
“People were more likely to engage on social media if they felt a strong emotional connection to the candidate and what they were hearing and seeing.”
The researchers say that Facebook and its ability to engage with voters on a daily basis has been key to the success of presidential campaigns.
“In terms of Facebook and how it was used, it was more effective than Twitter,” said Kline.
Social media accounts are widely used by voters, but they are also used by opponents of candidates and political campaigns as well as individuals who want to create or share content.
The researchers also found that campaigns use more than 30 percent of their advertising budgets on social networks.
In their report, the researchers looked at more than 500,000 voter engagement data from the 2016 presidential election, with the data collected from August 10 to August 11, 2017.
The data was collected via automated telephone surveys, text messaging, and phone calls.
The researchers found that over 70 percent of the data came from registered voters who were over 18 years old, and about 35 percent came from people who were 18 years or older.
The survey also found there were significant differences between political campaigns and non-political campaigns.
The research found that campaign leaders had the highest use of Facebook, followed by political campaigns with less than 50,000 people.
The report also found the same patterns of engagement across all social media, but it found that political candidates and their campaigns had more than twice the number of interactions with voters than non-campaigners.
“The biggest difference between political and nonpolitical campaigns was how often they used social media,” said Andrew Chamberlain, a senior researcher at Duke.
“Campaigns were far more likely than noncampaigners to use social media and to be engaged with it.
Campaigns were also much more likely.””
The fact that political campaigns were using social media at a higher rate, and more often, compared to non-commercial campaigns is a huge advantage for a candidate,” Chamberlain added.
“There’s a lot of pressure for a campaign to have the best social media presence, and a lot that comes down to a candidate’s ability to reach their followers.”
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