Can Facebook turn out voters?

A new study indicates that Facebook conversations have the potential to turning people out to vote in an election. A message sent by researchers may have triggered thousands of votes in the election two years ago, the study found. I was now interviewed by Bloomberg on the effectiveness of the social media campaigns by President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney and the potential of social media to getting people to vote.

The following is an excerpt from the story “Facebook Study Post May Have Sparked 340,000 Votes” by Bloomberg:

Marcus Messner, an assistant journalism professor who teaches on social media at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, said the study shows why social media is so important in the presidential campaign.

“It’s a heavy emphasis for both campaigns, and the fight for the Senate and House of Republicans in high-profile races,” Messner said in a telephone interview. “There’s hardly an hour where you don’t get a posting from Obama and Romney. It’s especially important in this campaign, which is so close, and because it comes to turn out and who can get people to vote.”

Obama has had an advantage, he said, because he has more younger supporters and has had a longer, established social media campaign, Messner said. Obama also engages social media audiences, by posting a “this seat’s taken” picture after Clint Eastwood talked to an empty chair, pretending to address Obama, during a Republican National Convention speech.

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