Social Media and Political Campaigns

November 17, 2011 by · Comments Off 


By Jared Monmouth

In 2008, America witnessed one of the most unusual and historic presidential elections in our nation’s history: there was a viable African-American candidate, a viable female candidate, and social media was used to an extent that had never been seen before.

Now in 2011, GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain hope to replicate this media strategy that made Obama’s campaign so successful three years ago.

While the use of popular social media has expanded to all ages, the youth voters (ages 18-29) are among its most frequent users. It was this same vote that favored Obama over McCain back in 2008 by over 35 percent, according to polls done by, and was one of the key factors in Barack Obama’s victory.

SMU political science professor Joseph Kobylka says he doesn’t pay much attention to social media but did realize its importance.

“It seems that the candidate that is able to take advantage of it the most will win. Young people don’t tend to give much money to campaigns, but you can get them to vote,” said Professor Kobylka.

Rick Perry, the current governor of Texas, released a video on his YouTube page titled “Proven Leadership” that is more like a movie trailer than the usual campaign ad, and has had over 2 million views. In it, Perry labels Obama as “President Zero”, as in zero job creation, and stresses that he is the one who can bring jobs back to America. Two other recently released videos by the Perry campaign have likened Mitt Romney to Barack Obama and highlighted his supposedly fickle nature on health care reform: the clips have over 300,000 views collectively. Perry, who also has a Facebook page with over 168,000 likes(friends), is focusing on ads to help strengthen his campaign.

Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, has a Facebook page with over 1.1 million likes. The page is frequently updated with photos of himself on the campaign trail, along with awareness statuses highlighting the current state of the economy during the President’s tenure and the occasional campaign ad. Romney also has a twitter account with 150,000 followers and tweets much like his status updates. According to polls on, Romney leads all GOP Candidates in terms of money and overall social media support. Romney pulls 50 percent of nearly all GOP money, 45 percent of the Facebook audience for Republicans, and has had an 80 percent gain in popularity on Twitter.

Amie Kromis, a junior Public Affairs major at SMU, agreed with the recent social media polling.

“I think Romney has impressed me the most. He has run for president twice already so he’s been building up his social media ‘empire’,” Kromis said.

Herman Cain, a businessman from Atlanta, hopes to get the nation’s economy back on track with the implementation of his proposed “$999” Plan. He has recently taken a surge in the polls, passing Perry and catching up to Romney, emerging as a legitimate candidate for the 2012 Republican Presidential Nomination. With 136,000 followers on Twitter and 300,000 likes on Facebook, The “Cain Train” Campaign as its been dubbed by supporters, has also made good use of social media. Cain recently released a video on YouTube that is making waves in the media and has been called both “brilliant” and “horrible”. In the video Cain’s chief of staff talks about Herman and why America should vote for him, while he smokes a cigarette. The clip has over 1.4 million views.

“Romney is supposedly the most visible and popular, yet he’s not substantially ahead. Cain’s the only one who’s consistently brought up his website during the debates and I think it’s working,” SMU junior Anthony Krow said.

Krow noted that the use of sites like YouTube and Twitter are necessary in today’s political world, but in the end it comes down to what the candidates are saying.

These candidates are not alone in wanting to find success with their campaigns through the popularity of the Internet. President Obama hopes his 2012 campaign will be just as successful as his previous one.

In 2008, Barack Obama’s campaign centered around brilliant speeches, the frequent use of the words “hope” and “change”, Facebook, and YouTube. Obama’s team didn’t even officially endorse videos like “Obama Girl” and “Yes We Can”, yet they still collectively garnered over 80 million views on YouTube and helped Obama’s rise in overall popularity. He has over 23 million likes on Facebook and an unrivaled 10 million followers on twitter. But since 2010, Obama has gradually gone down in national approval rating and is struggling to regain the momentum and popularity he had back in 2008.

“What he and his staff were able to do during his campaign was nothing short of amazing,” Vincent Powell, a former student at University of North Texas, said “It will be interesting to see if he can do it again.”

Opinion Blog: omg, txt shrth& n dxNre

April 13, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Posted By Natalie Posgate

Last month, the words “OMG” and “LOL” were added to the Oxford English Dictionary. Who knew that certain shorthand words associated with text messaging would officially become a part of the English language.

Also included in last month’s word induction was the heart symbol (?). It is the first symbol to “ever grace the volume.”

While these new words reflect the age we live in, they foster a sense of informality in our language that was not there 10 years ago. Since the Oxford English Dictionary considers these words legitimate, is it now acceptable for reporters and other professional writers to use these words in their work?

I think not.

I remember when the written word was considered something sacred. If somebody used a questionable word, the response would always be, ‘Well is it in the dictionary?’

Now that words such as “chillax,” “bromance” and “chill pill” are included in this dictionary, I can’t take this “word bible” seriously.

Part of the issue derives from the strong effect social media has on the way people interact with one other.

Adding somebody as a friend on Facebook is now such a well-known concept that people have automatically dubbed the act as “friending” someone, along with “defriending” someone if they remove them as a friend. Though I think it is acceptable to use these words in casual conversation, I would be horrified if I ever saw words like these in a news story.

If words like these become such a significant part of people’s verbal vocabulary, will they slip into people’s writing?

Because of the way today’s society delivers and receives news, I can understand why words like “bloggable” were added to the dictionary. In some instances blogs have been the first outlets to deliver breaking news, they have proven their importance and deserve to be incorporated into our terminology.

But are words like “sexting” really going to enrich the English language? I’m pretty sure none of my future editors will take me seriously if I try use “sexting” in my work.

It’s ironic that “Web 2.0” became the one millionth word in the English language; the “Web 2.0” is the reason such ludicrous words even exist.

Opinion Blog: Is Obama losing steam?

April 6, 2011 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Samantha Verrill

Was President Obama too informal about his formal statement to run for the presidency on Monday?

Though this was a formal announcement, it came in a very casual manner. Obama sent an e-mail and video. There was no speech at all.

With all of the glitz and glam of the last election, I expected fireworks. For a President whose approval rating has been in decline, he might serve his interests better by directly addressing all of his constituents. The e-mail was only sent to those who are signed up to receive messages from him.

The e-mail was a grassroots oriented plan that stated the importance of one-on-one conversations verses “expensive TV ads or extravaganzas.” Obama said he wanted to start campaigning on a more individual and personal level. Here is some news Obama, YouTube videos and e-mail blasts are about as impersonal as you can get.

The daring to be different could put a huge damper on his campaign. His newness is wearing off and he needs to have some substance behind him or his whole campaign will fail.

Obama is using social media for this election, just like he did last time. He is even holding a facebook town hall. He says he wants to be more hands on with his constituents but his actions show something completely different, the road to November 2012 should be an interesting one.

Though many were caught up in the change Obama spoke of last election it may take more than a two-minute video to get everyone re-interested.

In 2008 many candidates chose to forego the traditional speech. Obama could have made a better effort with one of the best political teams in the country and all of the advantages of being an incumbent. For a guy who was dubbed an innovator in the last election, there was nothing innovative about this low-key venture.

Is it laziness or the intense pressure of being in office that lead Obama to announce intentions for seeking re-election in this manner? Whatever it is, he may want to kick it in to high gear and at least pretend he cares before other candidates start announcing their intentions to run.

LIVE BLOG RECAP: How Social Media Can Make You a Better Journalist

April 6, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

SMU journalism students Samantha Cangelosi and Natalie Posgate live-blogged the Friday early bird session on social media featuring ThomsonReuters personal finance editor Lauren Young, executive business editor Marty Wolk and SMU j-prof Jake Batsell. You can download Batsell’s presentation here.

Global News Blog: Twitter in Venezuela

December 1, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Posted By Stuart Fisher

Twitter is one of the most powerful social media sites in the world right now, and even with severe censorship, Venezuela has been taken over by the social media site.

Unlike what most Americans are used too, Venezuela severely restricts and censors any media in the country. President Hugo Chávez even wanted to censor social media sites and internet; however, surprisingly, Chávez joined Twitter in April 2010.

Chávez represents the most followed person in Venezuela with 250,000 followers. BBC News reports that around 18% of his messages are hostile, and he employs over 200 people to read and follow up on his twitter. Many criticize his time spent on the social media site instead of tending to the immediate needs of Venezuela

Luckily, college students do not have people policing time spent on Twitter, or we would all be in trouble.

The Daily Mustang: Monday, Nov 8

November 8, 2010 by · Comments Off 

The Daily Update: Monday, Nov 8 from on Vimeo.

You might be surprised how many people are driving drowsy, the National Sleep Foundation is trying to put a stop to it, and find out which of your Mustang sports teams came home with a win.

Daily Update: Thursday, Nov. 4

November 4, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Daily Update: Thursday, Nov. 4 from on Vimeo.

On today’s Daily Update you’ll find out why Rangers fans still have a reason to celebrate and the direction that political campaigns are moving. Also, Kellius Cunningham will gives a preview of what this week’s football game against UTEP is going to look like and how SMU’s athletic policy is changing. All this and more on your Daily Update.

Q&A With Producer Bonnie Curtis

September 21, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

By Aida Ahmed

Dallas native and film producer Bonnie Curtis came to SMU along with Glenn Close Tuesday afternoon. Curtis and Close are planning to co-produce a film adaptation of “Albert Nobbs,” and were in town to get final financing for the movie.

Curtis, who has worked on films like “Saving Private Ryan” and “Artificial Intelligence”, spoke with the Daily Mustang on how she feels social media and new technology has impacted the art of filmmaking.

DM: Animation and 3-D are a big part of major films these days. How does this new technology affect your work and the art of filmmaking?

Curtis: Well you definitely have much longer time with animation. You have to think different. It’s very different than working with actors and character pieces. Digitial art has brought films like “Benjamin Button.” I like when it’s used like that, to aid a character.

DM: Have you seen social media affect the film industry in anyway?

Curtis: It’s distribution, the new theatrical distribution. I provide content and an iPhone screen is all you need. It’s fine to pass on to all your friends. It’s to be embraced, not pushed away.

The Language of Social Media

April 26, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Meg Jones

SMU students live in a world where Facebook is their homepage. When they are not at their computers, they are blogging from their cell phones and it is completely acceptable to poke, tweet or tag somebody.

Social media has invaded the Hilltop and has introduced a whole new lingo to our everyday language and new words to the dictionary.

“When I’m not blogging from my computer, I’m tweeting from my cell phone or checking my Facebook updates,” Kerri Dezell, SMU junior advertising major, said.

Web 2.0 is the buzzword summing up the latest generation of Internet technology and signifies the change in philosophy as to how information is generated and shared.

People used to think of electronically mediated language as abbreviations such as OMG or LOL, but in today’s world, the focus of e-language is changing from text message short hands to the coined phrases of social media.

The integration of words such as Facebook, Twitter and blog into our daily vocabulary “reflects the dynamic and somewhat porous nature of the English language,” Kartik Pashupati, SMU professor of Mass Media and Technology, said.

The computer-crazed culture has changed the noun Facebook into a verb. Facebook is not only something we have, but also something we do.

According to an article written by Professor Susan C. Herring of Indiana University, “Computer Mediated Discourse is not just a trend; it is here to stay.”

The New Oxford American Dictionary word of the year in 2009 was unfriend; a verb that means to remove someone as a friend on a social networking site such as Facebook.

“It has both currency and potential longevity,” Christie Lindberg, senior lexicographer for Oxford’s U.S. dictionary program, said in a press release.

Hashtag, also considered as a candidate for the 2009 Word of the Year, is defined as a sign (this one: #) added to a word or phrase that enables Twitter users to search for tweets (postings on the Twitter site) that contain similarly tagged items.

Facebook was the runner-up for Merriam-Webster dictionary’s 2007 word of the year. Other entries similar to Facebook in the Merriam-Webster dictionary include Facebooker, Facebookian, Facebooking and Facebook-it is.

According to Facebook’s Press Room, there are more than 400 million active users and the average user spends more than 55 minutes per day on Facebook.

When people don’t have access to their computers, they are logging on via cell phone. There are more than 100 million active users currently accessing Facebook through their mobile phones.

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone announced at Chirp, the Twitter development conference, that the site has 105,779,710 registered users and is adding 300,000 new users daily.

The Daily Update: Friday, April 23

April 26, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

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