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5 Ways Social Media Will Change Political Campaigns in 2014

by Jane Susskind, published

Since President Obama's digitally driven victory in the 2008 presidential election, politicians nationwide have been signing on to social media accounts in order to increase their following. They have integrated Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus into their campaign strategies and have continued to connect with their constituents on social media well after winning -- or losing -- elections.

But with a new year comes new technology, new applications, and new social media trends. Below are 5 predictions about how politicians will use social media to better reach out to, connect with, and win over potential voters in 2014.

The Google+ user base grew 33 percent from June 2012 to March 2013, making it the

second largest social network in the world. And to further expand its reach, Google has introduced Google Plus ads that will run on Google Display Network, which includes over 2 million sites.

"The ads look just like Google Plus posts but appear outside the network," Mashable commented, and Google will allow consumers to reshare, comment, or even join a live Hangout straight from the ad.

While Facebook and Twitter dominated the political realm during the 2012 presidential election, Google Plus will likely become more popular as advertising becomes more accessible to politicians.

The future of social media is image-based, and for good reason. Posts that include photo albums receive 180 percent more engagement than the average post.

If Barack Obama's social media team has taught us anything, it's that images speak louder than words, with his most popular tweet (and the most retweeted tweet on the entire social network in 2012) consisting of a photo of him and Michelle Obama.

In the 2012 election, Facebook was an integral factor in mobilizing young voters. Recent studies reveal, however, that young adults are leaving Facebook and flocking to social networks such as Instagram and Vine.

To appeal to young voters, politicians have already started sharing their campaigns, careers, and personal lives through filters on Instagram.

Senator Cory Booker and Governor Chris Christie have been early trendsetters, showcasing their expertise on Instagram.

Here is a complete list of the Top 5 Politicians on Instagram in 2013

Politicians are already somewhat comfortable on Facebook and Twitter, but few have started sharing micro-videos. Twitter's Vine and Facebook's Instagram, both limiting videos to 15 seconds or under, are two examples of networks that are underused by politicians.

Mico-videos, however, will play an increasingly important role in 2014. As opposed to long campaign ads or fully produced videos from politicians, micro-videos allow politicians to candidly share a behind the scenes look into their daily lives. In an age of information overload, the ability to watch a video as opposed to reading an article or tweet will give politicians an edge at engaging with their constituents.

In 2012, I reflected on the election by compiling a list of 10 reasons why Twitter mattered in the 2012 election. Of those reasons, its ability to allow for real-time reactions is why I believe Twitter will become increasingly relevant in future elections:

"Twitter has become a hub for voters to see real-time reactions, candid responses, and instantly check facts and statistics referenced in debates and speeches. It demands transparency from the candidates, knowing that their arguments can be verified in the blink of an eye."

As of November 2013, one in ten Americans gets their news from Twitter. I predict this number will grow substantially in the wake of another election.

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