Influencing the influential voter online

American media consumption habits are changing.  A quick snapshot shows us that this year we spent 53.5 billion minutes of Facebook, 70 percent of voters in South Carolina used the Internet as their main news source during the 2012 presidential primary and 1 in 20 people check their email more an 20 times a day. Americans are online, a lot. As a result, digital media will be at the forefront of this election cycle.

The opportunity to influence voters is immense with social media. Sites like Twitter, Facebook and Google + were built to connect people, but these social giants have grown into powerful platforms for persuasion. In a recent survey by Nielson, 92 percent of consumer respondents said they trust completely/somewhat recommendations from people they know and 70 percent trust consumer opinions posted online. That's compared to 47 percent who trust TV ads and 46 percent who trust newspaper ads.

So getting connected to the right people online will help you boost your campaign message’s creditability. Moreover, a study of social media users done by ExactTarget found that 72 percent of them publish blog posts each month, 70 percent comment on blogs, 33 percent use social media to share opinions, 32 percent make recommendations and 30 percent seek guidance and direction. That brings me to my final point: there's not just one type of social consumer. Just like people have different personalities and habits in real life, the same goes for online. Here's a breakdown of the different types of social media personas.

The Sharers. These people have large networks with many followers on Twitter and Facebook. The reason? They love to share content, opinions and data they find online. Getting something engaging in front of this social constituent will most definitely have a domino effect as they spread the content throughout their social networks. They're likely to be connected to other sharers are well.

The Creators. There are the reporters and the bloggers of the world. The ones who have opinions and want to create their own content surrounding topics they care about. They will take something you have said and develop additional content – some of it may be negative, but any PR is good PR right? Don’t be afraid of the “Creators.”

The Participators. Similar to the sharers and the creators, these are the people who participate in conversations that are happening online by commenting, liking and sometimes also sharing content. They're more apt to make their own voice heard rather than share the opinions of others. Still, they steer away from creating their own content. 

The Listeners. The most passive, but possibly the most important social media persona is the Listener. They’re the watchdogs of the social space, observing and absorbing a variety of messages and personal outlooks and attitudes of other social media consumers. They’re important because they don’t often reveal their reactions to the various content they’re consuming. We as campaign advertisers must work to control the content in front of these consumers as best we can.

Alena Baisden serves as digital media director at Smart Media Group. Prior to joining SMG, she executed online and traditional media campaigns for consumer brands, top universities and travel & tourism accounts.  

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