Number of followers does not spell success in campaign 2.0
Carmen Beatriz Fernández, specialist in electoral strategy and networks, explains that the success of an electoral campaign in social networks is determined by several factors merging, including the number of followers or fans, degree of influence, mentions and solid databases for activism
At the dawn of the electoral campaign for the Presidency of the Republic and in light of the advent of social networks in the country, mainly twitter and Facebook, candidates have not shunned away from using these tools to reach their audience, send out messages and do some campaigning.
The main candidates, President Hugo Chávez and the opposition Democratic Unified Panel's Henrique Capriles, are taking their race to social networks, but what factors may secure their success in this approach?
For Carmen Beatriz Fernández, director of consulting firm Datastrategia, success of an electoral campaign in social networks is determined by several factors, including the number of followers or fans, degree of influence, mentions and solid databases.
Fernández adds that influence by candidates over their Twitter followers is measured by how much their tweets are re-twitted, how many hits the links suggested by the candidate get and how much they interact with the actual candidate (this is measured by the Klout indicator shown below).
This specialist in cyberpolitics highlighted the importance of building a solid database of followers (Twitter) and fans (Facebook).
"A way to measure the effect of an electoral campaign on social networks is through the number of followers, but that is far from the most realistic figure. Much more important than the number of followers is the power that a candidate may have in influencing those followers," explains Fernández.
"For example, even though @chavezcandanga may have over 3 million followers and @hcapriles a little over 950 thousand, the difference between both according to the impact measured by the Klout indicator is not very big. On Facebook, however, Chávez does not have an official fan page whereas Capriles Radonski has over 300 thousand fans.
Fernández believes, however, that having a follower does not mean getting a vote. "The highly successful campaign launched last March about KONY2012 went viral, and efforts were aimed at getting activism out on the streets. On April 20, an activity named cover the night' was summoned through which friends of that cause would hit the streets. April 20th would be the first trial by fire' in moving from the virtual scope to reality. It is far easier to hit the Like' button on Facebook than to run outside and chant messages during a meeting of global leaders. In Australia, for example, of the 18,700 people who confirmed on Facebook they would be there for the Sydney event, only 25 actually showed up."
From follower to voter
The specialist believes that an element that truly adds value is the effort by campaign headquarters to develop its contact and activism database and use it correctly. "This would turn a simple follower' into an actual voter."
Interaction between voters and followers on social networks is also crucial.
"Horizontality and bidirectionality are highly important. Voters seek to establish tighter bonds with candidates through networks. Direct contact with politicians, without the mediating effect of the press, is one of the factors motivating users to follow politicians on Twitter. Voters feel that the media is a filter that they can do away with in their relations with politicians as direct contact is possible and desirable," adds Carmen Beatriz Fernández.
For an electoral candidate it is a must to be present in social networks as these tools are part of the new dynamics of human communications.
"In a way, networks shed light on how society is shaping. For candidates, it is important to be where their voters are and to be involved in leading-edge communication tools," explains Fernández.
"Social network penetration in Venezuela is quite high. There are practically as many Facebook users as there are Internet users (a penetration greater than 90% of Internet users), and even though Twitter's penetration is much lower (roughly 25%), it is still one of the highest in the world," notes Fernández.
She also talks about high activity levels in the youngest sectors of the population, that is, new voters. According to Fernández, "Over 70% of the youngest and most urban segments of the country's population has Internet access, and nearly all of them use social networks. These spaces cannot be ignored as they allow candidates to reach an audience that may otherwise be out of their reach."
Translated by Félix Rojas Alva
José Vicente Rangel clearly said: "We are not conducting negotiations threatened with a gun in the head." He warned behind closed doors in the midst of the social upheaval occurred during the oil strike in 2002 and 2003. Dissenting Timoteo Zambrano answered back that no other option was available: "The thing is that otherwise, you do not negotiate."