Conducted at the height of anti-establishment sentiment sweeping the country back in November 2010, a study just released by the non-partisan Pew Internet and American Life Project found that Facebook users are more likely to be engaged in political activity than other Americans.
In time, if not already, such a finding could help more Independent voters effectively expand their movement to those within their online social circles. Specifically, when researchers were controlling for demographic characteristics and other types of internet use, a Facebook user who visits the site multiple times a day is 2.5 times more likely to have attended a political rally or meeting, 57% more likely to have tried to convince someone to vote for a specific candidate, and 43% more likely to have said they voted or intended to vote.
Compared to non-internet users, Independents clearly possess the advantage in growing their movement if they take their messages online. Compared to non-internet users, internet users in general are 5.89 times more likely to have attended a meeting, 2.79 times more likely to talk to someone about their vote, and 2.19 times more likely to report voting.
Pew said that, when they controlled for demographic characteristics, internet users in general are 2.39 times more likely to have attended a political rally, 78% more likely to have attempted to influence someone's vote, and 53% more likely to have reported voting or intending to vote than non-internet users.
While the professional network LinkedIn, in the Pew findings, may have shown a higher percentage of site users participating in these respective political activities than other sites like Myspace, Pew offered an explanation for factors that predictably contributed to this particular result.
"Older and more educated Americans are more likely to be politically involved. Since LinkedIn users tend to be older and more educated, and Myspace users tend to be younger and less educated, this explains most of the difference we observed between SNS [Social Networking Site] platforms," Pew stated.
In practical terms, this means that growing a political movement involves reaching politically-engaged people where they're spending their time. In this case, Facebook encompasses a more diverse audience and an ideal environment for gaining a significant following. It also means that the rise of technology-savvy internet candidates is only one part of the equation.
In the age of social media, many consumers looking to purchase a product base their decisions on what their trusted peers within their social networks recommend. The same works in politics (if indeed an individual establishes himself or herself among peers as credible on the pertinent issues facing one's state and nation as a whole).
As the 'mainstream' media airwaves are often charged with heated and polarizing rhetoric, many citizens are looking for an alternative. In light of Pew's findings, the time is ripe for Independent voters to effectively spread their message to their disillusioned peers regarding which candidates and issues they believe deserve a chance to be heard. Establishing themselves as persuasive voices that stand out from the rest of the noise, devoted Independents can win one heart at a time by pushing unique political content to their online social circles.
Post. Share. Engage. And enjoy the fruitful conversation with your network that will hopefully contribute to getting the country back on track.