A poster of Hillary Rodham Clinton on public display at the Facebook office in Washington, D.C., demonstrates just how important the Clinton campaign thinks social media is going to be in the 2016 presidential election.
The campaign could be right, too. Facebook has expanded its political arm to attract millions of dollars in political campaign money through the 2016 election. The company reached out to all those running for the nation’s highest office, including the 16 Republicans and five Democrats, with innovative ways to reach voters. Clinton hosted a question-answer session on the social media giant earlier this month.
Other candidates, including conservatives Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Dr. Ben Carson, regularly post blogs and pictures of their activities, host polls, and ask for followers to sign petitions, call elected officials on issues and donate to their campaigns. While presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign isn’t as active on Facebook as some of his competitors, his interviews and comments have been making the social circles for months, often going viral and giving his campaign traction.
Facebook will be the winner in this election cycle, taking in approximately $1 billion in online political advertising. The company plans to cash in more than in 2012 by doubling its political team, adding a political sales group and data teams dedicated solely to either Democratic or Republican campaigns. Many of those plans have already been implemented.
Two new features voters will be seeing throughout this campaign cycle are more and better videos and campaigns uploading voter files directly to the social media site. Facebook’s plan also includes tracking and targeting voters, just as it does for its other advertisers.
The numbers don’t lie. Facebook has 1.44 billion users worldwide, up from less than 250,000 in 2008, when then-candidate Barack Obama began using social platforms to attract younger voters. Numbers indicate around 1.25 billion of those users are on mobile devices. Around 189 million monthly users are in the United States. While there aren’t concrete numbers on how many of those users fall into the youth category, Facebook’s tracking system in 2012 indicated that the majority of its users who planned to vote were under the age of 35.
In 2012, Facebook launched an interactive question asking people to tell whether they plan to vote. The platform tracked responses in real time and mapped the answers. Data from 3.7 million users shows that about two-thirds of Facebook users planning to vote were under 35 years old. Thirty percent were between 18 and 24 years old, and 32 percent were between 25 and 34 years old.
That could be bad for Republicans. A study by the Pew Research Center indicated that young voters comprised most of the Democratic Party’s votes in the three general elections from 2004 through 2008. Research indicated that 66 percent of those under 30 years old voted for Obama, while the ballots of post-30 voters were evenly divided between Obama and contender Sen. John McCain.
This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth