When it comes to engaging people, social media is where it’s at these days. People will frequently watch movies or TV shows based on what they see their friends watching on sites like Facebook or Twitter, so they, too, can join in the conversation. And now, with Facebook’s “I’m a Voter” button, this idea extends into the sphere of voting, as well.
Like the digital version of the famous “I Voted” sticker, the “I’m a Voter” button broadcasts to your friends that you voted, but does not say whom or what you voted for. The button made its debut in November 2012 for the United States presidential election. As Americans across the country voted for Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, over nine million of them clicked on the “I’m a Voter” button on Facebook, and there is little doubt that many of the people who did so voted because they, too, wanted to click the button. In fact, a 2012 study in a scientific journal found that merely seeing their friends vote on social media say they voted inspired 340,000 additional votes during the 2010 midterm elections just a few years earlier. Clearly, the peer pressure effect is a strong one.
Now Facebook is planning to keep the ball rolling by implementing this feature worldwide. It was recently visible to voters in India as they elected a new prime minister, and over 4 million Indians clicked the button signifying that they had voted. The button also recently returned for the European Parliament elections, and will be seen in a variety of other countries as the year progresses. Americans will be seeing it again, of course – this time during the midterm elections in November. Overall, Facebook estimates that 400 million people worldwide will see the button at some point this year – that’s over one third of Facebook’s active userbase.
What will truly be interesting to see as the year goes on is how much of an effect this has on voter turnout across the country and then the world. As we reach a point where Facebook saturates more and more of the population, its effect will no doubt continue to grow. As Facebook spokesman Andy Stone says, “When people see on Facebook that their friends have voted, they themselves are motivated to vote.”
Regardless of how you may feel about Facebook and the often heated political debates that crop up there among friends, at least one thing is certain: it will be fascinating to see how this continues to grow and engage people in the future.
About the Author:
Donna Emanuele is the Social Engagement Advocate for Election-America. Seasoned in in community engagement and participation, working in the field of elections seemed a natural fit for Donna. Donna can be reached directly at (866) 514-2995 x111 or DEmanuele@Election-America.com.