Resources for Election 2012: The Campaign for Social Media

Categories: Social media
Four years after the Obama campaign launched an unprecedented social media campaign, social media are even more influential and will play a major role in all 2012 elections — local and national.
This list of resources, designed to help journalists take full advantage of social media in their coverage of this political season, is provided by The Poynter Institute as part of a Specialized Reporting Institute, "Elections 2012: The Campaign for Social Media," held Oct. 25-27, 2011 and funded by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.


Twitter give you the jitters? It's easy once you know the terms:

Hashtag: A mark (#) often included in tweets to let people easily search and read tweets about certain subjects or events. For instance, #reagandebate contains tweets for the presidential debate at the Reagan Library last month. Making up hashtags that no one uses or #hashtagging #every #word #in #a tweet serves no one. For proper use of a hashtag, check out the often funny #YouMightBeAPoliticalStaffer. (Find tips on creating hashtags in the Key Resources section.)

DM (direct message): A private message on Twitter that is like an email between you and one other person. While public tweets are on the record, DMs may not be, so it is worth checking.

RT (retweet): Sending out someone else’s message. The style is to put the letters RT and then the original Twitter account name before resending a post. Most Twitter apps will allow you to do this automatically.

MT (modified tweet): Occasionally you will see a message introduced with MT. This means the person who has passed it along has changed it, often for space, but left the intent the same.

Twitterfeed: A free web service that automatically feeds tweets to twitter. You can use this to automatically send links to your account.

Via: When you will see messages that say “via @twitterpersonX," it means the sender saw something someone else tweeted and wanted to pass it along, giving the original tweeter credit. Similarly, you may see h/t, which stands for “hat tip” and is also used to credit an original source.

Lists: Twitter users can create lists that group other Twitter users by category. When covering an election, it's helpful to create a list of candidates in the race or races you cover, a list of staffers, a list of supporters, etc. Lists allow you to have one-click access to tweets from those you have added to a list. (Find tips on creating lists in the Key Resources section.)

Promoted: Promoted tweets are ordinary tweets that have been purchased by advertisers -- or candidates -- who want to reach a wider group of users or to spark engagement from existing followers. A promoted tweet will show up at the top of any Twitter search or list.

Key Resources



Live chats





How to use to archive and organize hot topics -- like an election

A social politics stack that is updated from time to time


How the presidential candidates stack up in the social media world ...

... and how they got where they got


The companion webinar to this Specialized Reporting Institute shows you how campaigns are using social media — and how you can, too — in your 2012 election coverage.

While polls can generate a lot of hype, they aren't always what they seem. Learn how to evaluate their numbers — and find out when 9 out of 10 isn't really 9 out of 10 — in News U's Understanding and Interpreting Polls course.