Google has undoubtably changed the way we view politics. It not only provides up to date insights on candidates nationwide, but its introduction into the world of social media has made Google one of the leading networks for political news, videos, and interaction on the internet. Google+, while new to the scene, has been rapidly growing, and with over 400 million users, it has paved the way for the future of elections.
Nonexistent in the 2008 election, Google+ in the 2012 election has transformed the way candidates, voters, and journalists view elections. Below are 10 reasons why Google+ matters in the 2012 election.
Google+ Hangouts enable a two-way dialogue that provides a different level of engagement than what was available before the social media revolution. As articulated by Daniel Sieberg from Google Politics and Elections at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, what sets Google Hangouts apart from traditional media is “the ability to bring up to 10 people into a video chat and have conversations with voters who aren’t there.” Google provides you the tools necessary to live-stream the Hangout on YouTube, embed it on a website, and share it with people not directly involved in the Hangout.
2) The Power of YouTube
Owned by Google, YouTube has over 4 billion views a day. And in an attempt to provide voters a “one-stop channel for key political moments,” YouTube’s Election Hub has become a channel for the latest election videos, news, and speeches. Live-streaming news from ABC News, Al Jazeera English, BuzzFeed, Larry King, The New York Times, Univision and the Wall Street Journal, YouTube and Google provide users with political news before, during, and after an event. The power of YouTube is amplified due to it’s significant user base, making it one of the most powerful tools this election.
3) Google Politics & Election Page
The Google+ page Google Politics & Elections offers followers a vast amount of statistical and analytical information. Throughout the election, it has been updating users on what the most searched terms are, who is leading in the polls, and minute-to-minute breakdowns of the presidential debates. Prior to the general election campaigning, Google Politics & Elections provided maps and insights on the Republican primary races, being one of the first sources announcing the winners in each state. It is a reliably and extensive source for all things politics this election.
4) A New Type of Debate
Looking to the future of elections, Google+ Hangouts in the 2012 election are unique, due to their ability to bring multiple people together. Unlike traditional debates, candidates in different states can meet online and engage in a meaningful discussion. IVN tested out the first ever Google+ debate with third party candidates Jill Stein and Gary Johnson. Stein was located in Seattle, while Johnson was campaigning in Wyoming, but through the technology provided by Google, the two candidates were able to discuss issues important to voters, side-by-side, in a real-time debate. This will unequivocally change the way elections are run in the future, and eventually lead to the transformation of Presidential Debates.
Google allows users to create events on Google+ in a way unparalleled by alternative social networks. Through Google+, users can invite people on the social network and by email. The innovative feature to allow collaboration with events by sharing photos makes Google Events social and engaging, prompting participation from outside users. Gary Johnson has been extremely successful in creating and sharing events with his 1,000,000+ following.
6) Google Search
As the most popular website and search engine in the United States, the capabilities of Google search make Google+ an irreplacable network for candidates and politicians trying to expand their reach. One of the main purposes of social media in a campaign is to reach out to people that previously were unreachable. Because Google+ posts are now integrated into search results, candidates and politicians can dramatically increase their reach by simply posting on the social network. This feature is unique to Google+, and while the network may not have as large as a user base as Facebook and Twitter, the integration of social posts in search results is a game changer in the 2012 election.
7) Hanging Out
Did I mention Hangouts? In case it wasn’t made clear before, it’s not just the option of having a Google Hangout that makes Google+ so revolutionary. It’s the ways in which it has been used in the 2012 election thus far. Sieberg continued,
“It’s one thing to have a Google+ account, but what are you doing with it? How are you finding people in your community? What is it doing to leverage your political beliefs…it’s not just signing up and that’s the end. It’s gotta be that kind of engagement.”
President Obama held his first Google+ Hangout in January of this year, engaging with voters from around the country, face-to-face.
8) Google’s 2012 Election Hub
Fueled by the search engines of Google, the 2012 Election Hub places data, statistics, search results, and YouTube onto one page. With the option to browse YouTube Live, Explorer, Trends, Insights, Voter Info, and Primary results, voters can compare search trends, news mentions, and YouTube views of the presidential candidates. And unlike most polling sites, Google’s Election Hub gives users the option to compare data on Green Party candidate Jill Stein and Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson.
9) Interactive Journalism
Politicians and candidates are not the only people using Google+ Hangouts to their advantage. Journalists and news organizations use Hangouts to hold chats, post interviews, and crowd source information. The Los Angeles Times uses Google+ Hangouts frequently to hold chats on the issues that matter most to Americans. The Washington Post utilized the feature to host and air a chat between Washington Post journalists, most recently Ezra Klein, giving users a glimpse into the newsroom. This creates a new level of openness and connectivity that was previously unavailable.
10) Google Insights
Because of Google’s search capacities, Google has unlimited access to election data and insights that could change the way candidates campaign in the future. With the ability to track real-time searches online, Google can predict trends, find the most searched keywords surrounding a political event or speech, and can analyze spikes in conversation. This data can track what phrases resonate, what topics spark the most conversation and could even be used to predict the outcome of an election.