As our country celebrates it's democracy today — where we can vote without fear of taking our lives into our hands — I thought it would be appropriate to consider how social media may be changing our voting engagement.
Not only have the politicians jumped on the social media bandwagon with social networking and twitters and blogs and community sites, but we've seen the conventions and the candidate debates turn into social media events through sites like Twitter and the mash-up of Twitter and CurrentTV.
Today, I Twittered while waiting in line to vote. I included #vtelxn so that my tweets would go into a "local" twitter meme for all Vermont voters.
Today, I'm seeing my Facebook friends "donate their status" to remind people to vote.
Throughout the day I'll probably watch http://election.twitter.com/ to get a flavor of what is happening around the country through people's tweets.
I'll check in at #votereport to see information about polling places — is anyone having issues? What are the lines like?
Tonight, will I watch TV? Maybe. More likely I'll be online checking the different sites and streaming live commentary from various places.
There are a growing number of ways in which I can feel more plugged in to the election process. It's not about being fed information from the candidates, but rather seeing what others in my social media sphere are doing and thinking has allowed me to feel even more connected.
So as the media talks about unprecedented voter turnout, as we all get engaged this year because of so many issues, I'm left wondering if the social media so many are using is having an impact on the voter turnout. As you see your friends writing about voting and you follow others who write about the lines and what they are doing as they wait to vote, does that pressure you into going to vote? Does it make you feel like part of a bigger movement knowing that you also voted and you can actually see others engaged the way you are? Others all over the country?
It's a known fact in marketing that word of mouth and viral marketing has more power then direct messages from a brand. Social media is the biggest WoM out there right now and part of the voter turnout may, indeed, be because of this phenomenon.
So, get engaged and plug in. Be in the know. And above all exercise your right to Vote.