How Social Media Won The Election

Election night has come and gone, but there’s a still a lot to learn from the race about how Millennials were involved in making it the most social election ever! Besides election night breaking a record with 20 million tweets, young people have taken to the Web the past few months, sharing political memes, gifs, status updates, and more. Most Millennials will tell you that their newsfeeds have been flooded with election information, and their generation has used Facebook as a forum to express their views via status updates and comments. They’ve been much more involved in the election than they’re given credit for, and in surveying 367 Millennials this past weekend, this became especially clear. Most of all, Gen Y made their interactions around the election social, engaging their peers in political information in accessible and often entertaining ways.

We asked Millennials about their political habits on social media leading up to the election and found that they were most active on Facebook. One-third (35%) said they posted a Facebook status about the election in the past two months and 4 in 10 (41%) commented on someone’s Facebook status about the election. Moreover, a quarter (24%) tweeted about the election and a close percentage (26%) replied to or retweeted someone else’s tweet about the election. Obviously these numbers jumped dramatically on Election Day with nearly 30% of Millennials informing their network who they voted for and millions sharing their thoughts on the outcome. Apparently taking pictures of, or Instagramming your ballot, is illegal in some states, but this idea itself reflects a very Millennial mindset of wanting to document their experiences and excitement about the election across social media.

Moreover, much of the political information among peers has been positive with 6 in 10 saying they encouraged their peers to vote and this same percentage said they had been encouraged by their peers to vote. On Election Day in particular, many Millennials pointed out how their stream was filled with people showing their enthusiasm after voting, which made them realize how impressive their generation can be in standing up for what they care about. Nearly 20% of Millennials voted, and they played a large part in the outcome of the race. Yet social media and politics aren’t always a good pair; 2 in 10 (22%) said they’ve gotten in an argument over the election on social media within the past two months. This suggests that debates can get heated, even behind a screen, but nonetheless, Millennials are eager to share their opinions about issues they care about.

There was also no escaping memes and gifs during election season which captured some of the biggest moments of the race. Big Bird became an Internet sensation and even pictures of him voting on Election Day spread across the Web. A gif of Obama doing Gangnam Style also became popular in the past few days, showing how pop culture and politics have collided throughout the race more than ever before. Moreover, humor makes serious subjects easier to understand and helps create a collective feeling, which Millennials value.

Millennials were also eager to see creative and interactive updates in real time, which in turn became a part of the flurry of election information on social media. The Rockefeller Center rink featured a map with real time results of each state, CNN coverage aired on a billboard in Times Square, and The Empire State Building was lit up with the election results. These all reflect ways in which the election was bigger and bolder this year, giving Millennials even more to talk or tweet about.

And of course, Barack Obama’s victory tweet about four more years and a picture of him with Michelle became the most popular tweet of all time, capturing a sentiment that will not be forgotten. It’s even been referred to as the tweet seen around the world, showing, how just like Obama, social media won the election!

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