Social media’s use in Senate elections

Mike Allen shares in interesting report in this morning’s Politico Playbook from the Emerging Media Research Council analyzing social media usage in US Senate elections specifically looking at the Florida Senate race. The draft report outlines three winning social media strategies (which seem pretty much like common sense to me).

  • Facebook – “Candidates who update their profile page regularly give fans a reason to return more frequently, resulting
    in higher rates of interaction and larger fan communities.”
  • Twitter – “High rates of messaging result in greater absolute numbers of followers and a greater level of follower engagement.”
  • YouTube – “The most popular political videos are campaign advertisements and position statements crafted specifically for the Web.”

Big Brother IS watching: the feds in social media

First we had Please Rob Me outlining the best time to burgle your friend’s house from foursquare information.  Now we have the IRS and the Justice Department training their agents on how to use social media to collect useful information about you.

I know this sounds conspiracy theorist, but it’s not. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has actually collected training documents from the feds detailing procedures.

Also, I know that the feds aren’t the only governmental body using what you publish on the Internet against you. I personally know someone who was audited by the Arkansas Department of Revenue because of the professionalism of their web site (I guess we all know who is next after this post).

They all aren’t really your friends

I’ve written about my rules of facebook before, but I just want to reiterate that research has shown that you really don’t have 5,000, 1,000 or even 500 friends on Facebook.  Back in the ‘ 90sRobin Dunbar, professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at Oxford University, came up with the theory that the part of the brain used for conscious thought and language — limits us to managing social circles of around 150 friends, no matter how sociable we are. Basically these are the people that you come in contact with every year and 150 was known as Dunbar’s number.

Now, Dunbar is researching whether larger social networks (like facebook) have allowed people to stretch their Dunbar number. Dunbar told the Times Online, “The interesting thing is that you can have 1,500 friends but when you actually look at traffic on sites, you see people maintain the same inner circle of around 150 people that we observe in the real world.”

An interesting aside on newspapers and Dunbar’s number: One of the concepts behind hyperlocal newspapers and web sites is that you must reach into all of your reader’s social circles– reach into group of 150 friends– and photograph, report on someone to keep your readers. That’s why you see all the photographs of your neighbors pet or cousin’s softball trophy in your small-town newspaper.