November 3, 2010 – United States – In an unprecedented come-from-nowhere campaign strategy Facebook swept the 2010 midterm election clearly demonstrating the social network’s flexibility and dominance over other social networks.
Foursquare was an early favorite of political and social media gurus as early as June. A grassroots push had formed to help Foursquare with GOTV (Get Out The Vote) efforts.
On October 27, 2010 Foursquare officially launched a campaign that would allow voters across the nation to earn an “I Voted” badge if they checked in at their local polling place on election day.
Foursquare “badges” are icons that are collected and displayed on a users profile page to share personal achievements with friends.
With barely a word from other social networks about the election it seemed as if Foursquare would be unopposed in their quest to provide badges.
However on Election Day the new media and political world were caught by surprise. Like so many yard signs that appear seemingly out of nowhere on the morning of an election; Facebook had rolled out its own “I Voted in the Election” badge that appeared when any American user logged into the system.
Similar in fashion to vote by mail and early voting options used by the country’s election officials, Facebook made it convenient for citizens to take part in the social media event and display that they had executed their right to vote.
As with most elections, turnout was key. Facebook registered over 12 million badges claimed. While exact figures by state were not provided the number represents a simple average of 240 thousand Facebook badges per state.
California and New York, two new media hot spots, had the highest Foursquare turnouts, however they failed to accumulate even 15 thousand combined check ins. In total the largest four states accounted for 36% of the 50 thousand check ins. Half the states did not register even 500 each.
Foursquare could still be considered a valid social media tool; however in the face of these truly lopsided results it will be hard to convince businesses to invest any seriously money in marketing via Foursquare.
Social media consultants sincerely interested in helping clients reach a larger and more valuable audience will certainly direct more people to Facebook while of course always keeping an eagle eye on new platform trends and changing user patterns.