Tweeting for Votes

San Diego Mayoral candidates are using Twitter to stay in touch with voters

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Twitter can be used as a communication tool for candidates wishes to reach out to potential voters.

    Everybody’s doing it. Kim Kardashian does it all the time. Ashton Kutcher is really good at it. Even President Obama does it from time to time.

    Staying in touch with Twitter has become standard for many celebrities, politicians and CEOs. The social media method is also gaining momentum in a different way, as public figures take the Twitter reigns to benefit their campaigns.

    Politicians are especially increasing their Twitter use, particularly for election season. With the San Diego mayoral race in full swing, candidates have used their social media accounts to stay in touch with voters and their constituents. Mayor Jerry Sanders has been known to tweet as well, with his Twitter handle appropriately being named @MayorSanders. The four major candidates, Carl DeMaio, Bonnie Dumanis, Rep. Bob Filner and Nathan Fletcher have Twitter accounts, but the level of interaction is different for each person.

    If polls were correlated with Twitter followers, council member DeMaio would hold the lead. The most active user of the bunch, DeMaio has more than 5,000 followers and personally tweets a few times per day.

    Close behind DeMaio is state assemblyman Fletcher with roughly 2,900 followers. He has been tweeting for more than two years and has continued to update his status since he announced his candidacy for mayor.

    Dumanis, the current district attorney, started tweeting last year and has roughly 350 followers. She sends out a couple tweets every few days, occasionally posting pictures and videos of herself at community events. Her account is also partially managed by her staff.

    Filner shows the least activity of the four with only a few Twitter posts this year, the latest being in May. He has almost 330 followers.

    It’s still too early to see whether or not these candidates will use social media to their advantage, but there’s no denying Twitter has become an essential campaign tool.

    “It’s very quickly become an effective campaign strategy,” said Dan Schnur, University of Southern California’s director of the Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics. “It’s a very rapidly emerging field.”

    He suggested using Twitter could be more useful in a local campaign than a national one, since national politicians tend to receive more coverage.

    “Because there’s not as much traditional media coverage locally, social media becomes that much more important,” Schnur said.

    But instead of using Twitter to garner more supporters, Schnur thinks it's best to communicate to the ones they already have.

    “Most effective use of social media is to motivate and organize your supporters,” he said.

    Schnur also said candidates who take the time to personally send out message gain more respect.

    “Candidates that do it themselves come across as more authentic,” he said. “It takes time, but it’s time well spent.”

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