As November 4 and the US Presidential Election looms ever nearer, there’s a new battle going on for the hearts and minds of the American voters. It’s not between Barack Obama and John McCain (although they are the two major players in it). No, this battle is between social media giants MySpace and Facebook.
Ever since Facebook broke the 100 million users barrier, the dogfight between them and MySpace has intensified, with each one coming out with new ways to keep their users happy.
(Not counting the forced-upon Facebook redesign, of course, which has split opinions on Facebook considerably).
Therefore, it’s incredibly zen-like timing that the battle is picking up in the US Presidential Election year. After all, this is a decision that’s going to impact the world we all live in for the next 4 years. What better opportunity to engage your users and give them something the other site isn’t?
Looking at Facebook and MySpace, it’s interesting to see the different approaches they’re taking. Which one works best, of course, is down to the user and target audience.
MySpace, for example, have set up a special My Debates area in partnership with the Commission on Presidential Debates. Their aim with this is to truly offer an interactive medium for both MySpace users and non-MySpace users alike (an excellent idea).
Entering the My Debates area, users can join interactive forums, watch the live debates between the candidates and even submit questions for the candidates to answer. There are also options to host your own group discussion, as well as print off the key issues that the candidates are using for their campaign voice.
Encouraging visitor interaction, MySpace are also involved in a Town Hall debate on October 7 where questions and views uploaded to the My Debates area will be discussed via a live stream on the site. With MySpace traditionally attracting a younger demographic, their election options offer an invaluable insight into what the new generation of voters would like to see change.
Compare this to Facebook. Unlike MySpace, there is no dedicated option for Facebook users to log into and offer their opinions. Instead, the second-largest social media site has left it to the politicians, their campaign teams and the ordinary Facebook user to start their own discussions or groups – so, nothing really different from existing discussion groups.
There are some useful applications that Facebook are allowing on the site. One, from ECOresearch, allows users to cast their vote weekly, as well as taking part in an interactive real-time quiz that discusses the latest updates and news from the campaign trail.
Apart from this, though, and the ability to join your preferred candidate’s Facebook Election 08 group, there’s not really a lot on Facebook when it comes to the upcoming election. This seems strange for such a major event that impacts us all. The limited options offered by Facebook are thrown into perspective even more by websites like If The World Could Vote which has seen over 104,000 votes from 176 countries so far.
There’s no doubt that in this particular battle, MySpace wins hands down. Which makes MySpace one to watch for all the candidates looking to see how the younger and more traditional voters are swaying. If the latest graph from the MyDebates area is correct, it doesn’t make pretty reading for McCain.
If the actual election goes anything like the current social media one, then MySpace and Obama will be sitting pretty while Facebook and McCain will be left to wonder where it all went wrong.
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