New York Times: A Better Way to Measure Twitter Influence

The True Measure of Twitter Success

After reading the recent article from the New York Times (attached in full post), you begin to realize Millions of Twitter followers, although initially impressive, may just be window dressing to a successful Twitter strategy. True influence on Twitter is not calculated by simply how many followers one has, but rather how active followers are with tweets.

Are followers retweeting? Do you they respond and interact with your content? Are they clicking on your links and visiting your website? These are the kind of metrics that actually give you a powerful voice on Twitter. Check out the article from DAVID LEONHARDT of the New York Times in the full post learn more about how to effectively measure success on Twitter. You may be surprised what you find!

The True Measure of Twitter Success

After reading the recent article below from the New York Times, you begin to realize Millions of Twitter followers, although initially impressive, may just be window dressing to a successful Twitter strategy. True influence on Twitter is not calculated by simply how many followers one has, but rather how active followers are with tweets.

Are followers retweeting? Do you they respond and interact with your content? Are they clicking on your links and visiting your website? These are the metrics that actually give you a powerful voice on Twitter. Check out the article from DAVID LEONHARDT of the New York Times to learn more about how to effectively measure success on Twitter. You may be surprised.

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A Better Way to Measure Twitter Influence

By DAVID LEONHARDT
March 24, 2011
New York Times
A version of this article will appear in print on March 27, 2011, on Page 18 of the Magazine.

Whether you’re a Twitter user like Lady Gaga (millions and millions of followers) or, say, me (2,600 and growing!), you’re always aware of roughly how many people follow you. It’s just how people keep score on the site and compare themselves with friends and colleagues.

But it turns out that counting followers is a seriously flawed way to measure a person’s impact on Twitter. Even one of Twitter’s founders, Evan Williams, made the point to me recently: someone with millions of followers may no longer post messages frequently, while someone followed by mere tens of thousands may be a prolific poster whose messages are amplified by others.

So who are the most influential people on Twitter? We asked the people at Twitalyzer, an independent research firm, to study the question, and they came back with something called the Influence Index. It counts the number of times somebody’s Twitter name is mentioned by other users (including retweets, which occur when one user rebroadcasts another’s message). The Influence Index doesn’t merely measure who’s talking on Twitter, but it also measures how much someone is affecting the conversation. Look below at how low Lady Gaga’s influence score is, for example.

Among the discoveries: It helps to come from one of the four countries where Twitter is most popular — the United States, Brazil, England and Canada. That may explain why there are three unfamiliar names, at least to most Americans, in the Top 10: Stephen Fry (a British actor), Luciano Huck (a Brazilian television star) and Rafinha Bastos (a Brazilian comedian).

Eric T. Peterson, the chief executive of Twitalyzer, points out that some of the most influential users also make a big effort to respond to much less famous people with personal messages. Kim Kardashian falls into this category. President Obama, as you may have guessed, does not.

One last thing: Twitalyzer’s public Web site doesn’t let people calculate their own influence scores. But you can get your impact score, which is a 0-to-100 index that combines influence, number of followers and frequency of message writing. To calculate that, type your Twitter name into the box here.


10 Most-Influential People*

1. Rafinha Bastos

Followers: 1,690,817
Influence: 90

2. Chad Ochocinco

Followers: 1,651,070
Influence: 89

3. Conan O’Brien

Followers: 2,367,928
Influence: 88

4. Stephen Fry

Followers: 2,188,395
Influence: 87

5. Ryan Seacrest

Followers: 3,880,840
Influence: 86

6. Snoop Dogg

Followers: 2,536,996
Influence: 85

7. Barack Obama

Followers: 6,531,868
Influence: 83

8. Rainn Wilson

Followers: 2,168,826
Influence: 83

9. Kim Kardashian

Followers: 6,032,559
Influence: 81

10. Huck Luciano

Followers: 2,663,202
Influence: 77

10 Most Followed People

1. Lady Gaga

Followers: 7,941,444
Influence: 41

2. Justin Bieber

Followers: 7,032,265
Influence: 67

3. Britney Spears

Followers: 6,652,470
Influence: 59

4. Barack Obama

Followers: 6,531,868
Influence: 83

5. Ashton Kutcher

Followers: 6,261,483
Influence: 68

6. Kim Kardashian

Followers: 6,032,559
Influence: 81

7. Ellen DeGeneres

Followers: 5,745,455
Influence: 67

8. Katy Perry

Followers: 5,283,350
Influence: 50

9. Taylor Swift

Followers: 5,020,965
Influence: 38

10. Oprah Winfrey

Followers: 5,013,218
Influence: 40

*Among the 100 most followed individuals on Twitter. All data was collected from Jan. 18 to Feb. 15; follower counts have since gone up.


Head to Head

(POLITICS)
Sarah Palin

Followers: 401,505
Influence: 39

Newt Gingrich

Followers: 1,308,173
Influence: 13

(SPORTS)
LeBron James

Followers: 1,357,627
Influence: 80

Shaquille O’Neal

Followers: 3,489,519
Influence: 47

(RELIGION)
Rick Warren

Followers: 236,054
Influence: 87

Dalai Lama

Followers: 1,313,098
Influence: 75


For this blog post, we also ranked the top five most influential users in four different areas: technology, potential 2012 presidential candidates, religion and sports.

Technology

1. Bill Gates

Followers: 2,102,615
Influence: 54

2. Biz Stone

Followers: 1,667,233
Influence: 42

3. Tim O’Reilly

Followers: 1,441,631
Influence: 39

4. Jack Dorsey

Followers: 1,606,820
Influence: 35

5. Tony Hsieh

Followers: 1,773,668
Influence: 20

Republican Contenders

1. Sarah Palin

Followers: 401,505
Influence: 39

2. Mike Huckabee

Followers: 123,168
Influence: 16

3. Jim DeMint

Followers: 70,962
Influence: 16

4. Donald Trump

Followers: 325,571
Influence: 13

5. Newt Gingrich

Followers: 1,308,173
Influence: 13


Religion

1. Rick Warren

Followers: 236,054
Influence: 87

2. Joel Osteen

Followers: 160,445
Influence: 87

3. Deepak Chopra

Followers: 401,709
Influence: 85

4. Dalai Lama

Followers: 1,313,098
Influence: 75

5. Joyce Meyer

Followers: 181,281
Influence: 52

Sports

1. Serena Williams

Followers: 1,903,261
Influence: 72

2. Lance Armstrong

Followers: 2,731,964
Influence: 50

3. Shaquille O’Neal

Followers: 3,489,519
Influence: 47

4. Dwight Howard

Followers: 1,826,440
Influence: 34

5. Tony Hawk

Influence: 18

New Official Websites for Rep. Esquivel and Weidner

Common Ground is proud to announce the launch of new official websites for Representative Sal Esquivel (HD-6, Medford) and Representative Jim Weidner (HD-24, McMinnville). Representative Esquivel and Weidner’s new interactive web platforms possess an array of modern features that will empower them to better communicate and interact with their constituents.


Common Ground is proud to announce the launch of new official websites for Representative Sal Esquivel (HD-6, Medford) and Representative Jim Weidner (HD-24, McMinnville). Representative Esquivel and Weidner’s new interactive web platforms possess an array of modern features that will empower them to better communicate and interact with their constituents. Some of their innovative features include:

  • Interactive District Map: Navigate the district using a Google map
  • Multimedia Page: Watch videos of Rep. Esquivel and Weidner in action on the house floor
  • Capitol Tours: Learn more or sign up for Capitol tours from the website
  • Meet Jim: Sign up to meet Rep. Weidner in district or the Capitol directly from the website
  • E-newsletter Sign and Archive: View previous newsletters and sign up for the mailing list
  • Social Media Integration: Ability to “Like” web pages on Facebook and view social media channels
  • Facebook Widget: View the latest post or “Like” Rep. Esquivel or Wiedner’s Facebook page
  • Search A Bill: Easily search and find legislation

Click on the Rep. Weidner and Esquivel’s websites below to visit their live sites.

The Power of Online Surveys

Case Study: How Online Surveys Provide Constituent Insight

As an elected official, it’s crucial to have the tools in place to be able to quickly and effectively listen to your constituency. As hot-button issues arise, having the ability to take the pulse of the citizens you represent in a minutes notice can greatly enhance your understanding of your constituency. In the digital age, such a tool is found in Common Ground’s online survey tools where individuals can put in their two cents on hot issues and current legislation in a matter of seconds with a click of button.

Rep. Kevin Cameron of HD-19 in South Salem recently used an online survey to collect input and feedback about a proposed bill in the Oregon state legislature that would ban plastic bags in Oregon grocery stores and require a 5 cent deposit on paper bags. After Cameron saw the bill over the news and his office received several calls about the bag issue, he decided to advertise and cross-pollinated his two question survey on the proposed legislation across all of his digital communication platforms such as his Facebook page, Twitter, E-newsletter, and Official Website.

Case Study: How Online Surveys Provide Constituent Insight

As an elected official, it’s crucial to have the tools in place to be able to quickly and effectively listen to your constituency. As hot-button issues arise, having the ability to take the pulse of the citizens you represent in a minutes notice can greatly enhance your understanding of your constituency. In the digital age, such a tool is found in Common Ground’s online survey tools where individuals can put in their two cents on hot issues and current legislation in a matter of seconds with a click of button.

Rep. Kevin Cameron of HD-19 in South Salem recently used an online survey to collect input and feedback about a proposed bill in the Oregon state legislature that would ban plastic bags in Oregon grocery stores and require a 5 cent deposit on paper bags. After Cameron saw the bill over the news and his office received several calls about the bag issue, he decided to advertise and cross-pollinated his two question survey on the proposed legislation across all of his digital communication platforms such as his Facebook page, Twitter, E-newsletter, and Official Website.

Combining Earned and Digital Media

Cameron’s survey also caught the attention of Salem-area radio show host, Bill Post on 1430 AM. Post recognized the opportunity for Salem residents to tell their State Representative what they think about the proposed bag bill and strongly encouraged his listeners to go to Cameron’s website or Facebook page and take his online survey.

Results

Within 72 hours, Cameron’s survey received over 285 responses from his constituents via his email list, web visitors, Facebook fans and Twitter followers. Cameron posted the survey results to his website and featured them in his next e-newsletter. Due to the back-end sophistication of the survey tool, Cameron’s office can download the survey data into a spreadsheet and send follow up segmented messages via email and direct mail to respondents according to their responses to the survey. See full results of the survey below.

Rep. Wand Launches New Site To Better Serve Constituents

Our team here at Common Ground is proud to announce the launch of a new official website for Representative Matt Wand (HD-49, Troutdale). Wand’s new interactive web platform (pictured below) will enable his office to better educate, engage and interact with his constituents through innovative features like constituent sign up forms, surveys, event page, enewsletters, and social media integration.

Congratulations, Representative Matt Wand on your new website! Please take a moment to visit his site today at – www.repmattwand.com

Our team here at Common Ground is proud to announce the launch of a new official website for Representative Matt Wand (HD-49, Troutdale). Wand’s new interactive web platform will enable his office to better educate, engage and interact with his constituents through innovative features like constituent sign up forms, surveys, an events page, e-newsletters, and social media integration.

Congratulations, Representative Matt Wand on your new website! Please take a moment to visit his site today at – www.repmattwand.com

To learn more about Common Ground’s custom designed and fully integrated websites visit our web platform page now.

Using Twitter to Measure Political Sentiment

I stumbled across this very interesting article on how Twitter can be used to track public sentiments in real-time on the New Media Strategies blog. The following post by NMS Senior Online Analyst Mark LeMunyon analyzes Twitter discussion during last week’s State of the Union Address to gauge sentiment and reactions to the speech. Read more about his findings from his post below.

Twitter Sentiment Analysis: 2011 State of the Union Address

By: Mark LeMunyon of New Media Strategies
Published: February 2, 20011 on the NMS Blog

This is small project I whipped together by pulling information off Twitter’s API during the 2011 State of the Union Address, and then running the data through a senitment analysis to gauge audience reaction throughout the speech. The result:

I stumbled across this very interesting article on how Twitter can be used to track public sentiments in real-time on the New Media Strategies blog. The following post by NMS Senior Online Analyst Mark LeMunyon analyzes Twitter discussion during last week’s State of the Union Address to gauge sentiment and reactions to the speech. Read more about his findings from his post below.

Twitter Sentiment Analysis: 2011 State of the Union Address

By: Mark LeMunyon of New Media Strategies
Published:
February 2, 20011 on the NMS Blog

This is small project I whipped together by pulling information off Twitter’s API during the 2011 State of the Union Address, and then running the data through a senitment analysis to gauge audience reaction throughout the speech. The result:

This graph represents the ratio of positive words to negative words over time during the SOTU.

For reference, Pres. Obama’s speech began and ended at approximately 9:11PM and 10:13PM. To compare, here’s a timeline of selected quotes and topics discussed during the speech:

  • 21:18 – Economy, international competition
  • 21:20 – Need for innovation.
  • 21:24 – “This is our generation’s Sputnik moment.”
  • 21:24 – Government investment in biotechnology, energy
  • 21:26 – “I’m asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies.”
  • 21:28 – Education.
  • 21:33 – “We’ve ended the unwarranted taxpayer subsidies that went to banks, and used the savings to make college affordable for millions of students.”
  • 21:36 – Immigration reform in regards to education.
  • 21:36 – Tax reform.
  • 21:45 – “If a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it.”
  • 21:54 – Salmon joke.
  • 21:59 – al-Qaeda.
  • 22:01 – Foreign affairs, Obama’s planned trips.
  • 22:03 – Independence of South Sudan.
  • 22:04 – Uprising in Tunisia.
  • 22:06 – DADT, military recuiting on college campuses.

If you’re interested in further comparing the data to the speech, I recommend the White House video of the SOTU on Youtube, which has a full transciption timeline. Simply add 9 hours and 11 minutes to the video time to estimate the time in EST.

The data includes 240,000 tweets which use the term “sotu”, “#sotu”, “stateoftheunion” or “state of the union”, sent between 9:00PM and 10:30PM EST on 1/25/2011.

Every tweet was compared to a list of words with predetermined sentiment scores (from the University of Pittsburgh’s OpinionFinder subjectivity lexicon). Each tweet was given two scores, one for the number of matched positive words and another for number of matched negative words. The scores were then summed up by 10 second time intervals, and a sentiment ratio (total positive words / total negative words) was generated for each 10s interval. The ratio is represented on the above graph as the gray line. The magenta line is a 60 second moving average, and the navy line is a 5 minute moving average.

This methodology is nearly identical to that of a study by Carnegie Mellon (O’Connor et al. 2010), which was featured on Mashable and other blogs. As noted in that study, there are lexicons that may work much better with Twitter, as this one was developed for proper English, which is something of a rarity on Twitter. (“#zomg4reels.”)

Again, this isn’t an extremely rigorous peer-reviewed scientific analysis, but it does provide some interesting fodder for discussion around how people reacted to the State of the Union Address.

Target Audiences by Job Title with LinkedIn

Is it Time to Add LinkedIn to Your Advertising Formula?

LinkedIn announced last week a big enhancement to their advertising platform. Advertisers now have the capability to target LinkedIn ads to specific job titles of their 85 million users. But are there any LinkedIn users in Oregon? Yes, in fact there are over 200,000 LinkedIn users and growing in the greater Portland area.

If you’re a trade group trying to reach and engage leaders and executives in specific industries, this may be a great tool to utilize or at the very least test. This new feature combined with LinkedIn’s geographic and industry targeting tools, allows for very efficient and hyper targeted advertising, much like Facebook and Google advertising.

If you’re not familiar with LinkedIn and want to learn more about it, check out our recent blog post, entitled Is LinkedIn Right For You?

Is it Time to Add LinkedIn to Your Advertising Formula?

LinkedIn announced last week a big enhancement to their advertising platform. Advertisers now have the capability to target LinkedIn ads to specific job titles of their 85 million users. But are there any LinkedIn users in Oregon? Yes, in fact there are over 200,000 LinkedIn users and growing in the greater Portland area.

If you’re a trade group trying to reach and engage leaders and executives in specific industries, this may be a great tool to utilize or at the very least test. This new feature combined with LinkedIn’s geographic and industry targeting tools, allows for very efficient and hyper targeted advertising, much like Facebook and Google advertising.

If you’re not familiar with LinkedIn and want to learn more about it, check out our recent blog post, entitled Is LinkedIn Right For You? Read more about LinkedIn’s announcement and new advertisement feature below:

What are you waiting for? Get started today – click here to visit LinkedIn’s advertising page.

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LinkedIn Announcement:

January 26, 2011
By: Lauren Indvik of Mashable

LinkedIn is now allowing advertisers to target users based on job title, company name and LinkedIn group level. Previously, advertisers could only target users based on geography and industry.

Social networks like Facebook have long given advertisers the ability to target users based on shared information about gender, interests and relationship status, among other things, without compromising their personal privacy. It’s part of what’s made Facebook such an attractive platform for ad buyers, who have come to expect the same capabilities from other social networks, including LinkedIn.

LinkedIn says that in early tests, click-through rates have been three to four times greater for clients who distributed targeted ads compared to the site’s average.

Take-A-Survey: Location Based Social Media

Help Wanted: Take 5 Minutes & Participate in My Project

In addition to my duties as a senior digital strategist for Common Ground, I am also a graduate student at the University of Oregon in Portland. I am a candidate for a M.A in Strategic Communication and currently in my final term and working to complete my final project on location based social media such as Foursquare, GoWalla and Facebook Places.  As a part of my project I am conducting an online survey to measure and analyze why both individuals and businesses use and don’t use location based social media.

In order to optimize the accuracy and validity of my research, I want to get as many people and businesses and organizations to complete my online survey. I would greatly appreciate if you could would help me out and participate in my survey below. Thank you in advance for assistance!

Help Wanted: Take 5 Minutes & Participate in My Project

Location Based Social Media Sites

In addition to my duties as a senior digital strategist for Common Ground, I am also a graduate student at the University of Oregon in Portland. I am a candidate for a M.A in Strategic Communication and currently in my final term and working to complete my final project on location based social media such as Foursquare, GoWalla and Facebook Places.  As a part of my project I am conducting an online survey to measure and analyze why both individuals and businesses use and don’t use location based social media.

In order to optimize the accuracy and validity of my research, I want to get as many people and businesses and organizations to complete my online survey. I would greatly appreciate if you could would help me out and participate in my survey below. Thank you in advance for assistance!

What’s Location Based Social Media?

If you have any questions about location based social media, check out some of helpful resources I’ve listed below to learn more:

Poll: Do You Use Location Based Social Media



New Redesigned Website for Rep. Tim Freeman

Common Ground is proud to announce Representative Tim Freeman’s (HD-2, Roseburg) re-designed online office and website. Representative Freeman’s new website innovative and forward-thinking features include:

– Social media integration: Facebook widget, social icons and embedded share tools
– E-newsletter Capture & Archive:
Sign up for newsletters and view archive
– Interactive Google District Map:
Zoom and navigate the district using Google Maps
– Hot Issues:
Resource section on the homepage for the latest issues and topics
– Constituent Sign Up Forms:
Apply for an internship or sign up for a capitol visit

Congratulations, Representative Tim Freeman, on your new website! Check out his new site today at – www.statereptimfreeman.com

Common Ground is proud to announce Representative Tim Freeman’s (HD-2, Roseburg) re-designed online office and website. Representative Freeman’s new website’s innovative and forward-thinking features include:

  • Social media integration: Facebook widget, social icons and embedded share tools
  • E-newsletter Capture & Archive: Sign up for newsletters and view archive with a click of a button
  • Interactive Google District Map: Zoom and navigate the district using Google Maps
  • Hot Topics & Issues: Resource section on the homepage for the latest policy issues and topics
  • Constituent Sign Up Forms: Apply for a student internship or sign up for a capitol visit online

Congratulations, Representative Tim Freeman, on your new website! Check out his new site today at – www.statereptimfreeman.com

To learn more about Common Ground’s custom designed websites visit our web platform page now.

www.statereptimfreeman.com

Focus on More Engagement Before More Fans

What’s the most important metric to measure the success of your Facebook page? Total Fans? Wrong, although having thousands or millions of users as fans or “likes” on your page represents vast potential (just ask President Obama), it doesn’t automatically spell success. Bottom line: Your fans are only as valuable as how engaged they are. Don’t get too caught up in the raw numbers of total fans, if your fans are not being activated to become involved with the content of your organization or campaign, then they’re simply just a number, not yet a valuable asset. Here are some steps to take to increase engagement with your fans:

Interaction Quality Over Quantity

What’s the most important metric to measure the success of your Facebook page? Total Fans? Wrong, although having thousands or millions of users as fans or “likes” on your page represents vast potential (just ask President Obama), it doesn’t automatically spell success. Bottom line: Your fans are only as valuable as how engaged they are. Don’t get too caught up in the raw numbers of total fans, if your fans are not being activated to become involved with the content of your organization or campaign, then they’re simply just a number, not yet a valuable asset.

Create an Environment for Noisy Fans!

Sports fans know that the loudest football stadiums are not always the biggest. I can personally attest this. I’ve been to football games at both small and large stadiums such as the Rose Bowl where 100,000 fans are in attendance and our very own, Autzen Stadium, where the capacity is about 58,000.

Which is louder? It’s not even close, Autzen is way louder! Despite only having a capacity of 58,000, substantially less than most BCS college football stadiums, Autzen is continually ranked among the loudest stadiums in the nation because the fans are extremely engaged in the game and their beloved Ducks. Facebook pages are not unlike Football stadiums, where it’s not all about the number of total fans, but rather how noisy and engaged they are.

Measuring Engagement

Before you move forward with trying to get more users to like your page, think about how you improve the overall engagement of your existing fans. The is place to start for this is Facebook Insights, the free analytical software that comes with your Facebook page. Insights enable you to continually measure the interaction levels and success of your engagement strategies by month, week and even down to an individual post. The ultimate goal is to get as many of your lifetime Likes or fans to convert to active users in any given month.

Insights Overview

In the Insights example below, 1,279 out of 2,153 (60%) total fans are listed as “Active” because they’ve either made a comment, “liked” a post or viewed a post in the last month, in other words they’re actively interacting with the content. The green arrow under ‘Monthly Active Users’ with the 4.9% represents the increase in Monthly active fans from the previous month. If this number is going down, then you’ll want to see why and evaluate your page content. You can also drill down into interaction levels for individuals post when go into ‘details’ section within Insights.

For a comprehensive guide to using Facebook Insights, check out this Mashable blog post.

Testing Engagement

To achieve better user engagement with your posts try testing various strategies to what works best. Based the results of the performance metrics from Insights, you can then quantify and continually refine what works better through A/B testing of your strategies. Here are some messaging strategies and tactics that you can test to increase overall engagement:

  • Pose a Question and Encourage Discussion: Based on the content of your post, ask users what they think. For example; if you’re posting a news article, insert a question about it and ask for feedback from your fans.
  • Create Two Way Dialogue: Respond and thank fans who interact with posts and provide feedback. This will send a message to other page members that interaction is valued and encouraged.
  • Ask For Tips and Advice: Ask your fans for advice and tips on a current issue, policy position or problem your campaign or organization may be experiencing. Facebook users like to help and offer insight when they’re asked, plus it makes them feel valued.
  • Be a Resource: When you come across helpful or insightful content related your campaign or industry, go ahead and post it to your Facebook page because it’s likely your fans would also find it interesting. Don’t assume everybody already saw the content or article, pass it along.
  • Timing: Play around with what time of day you post and test what results in better interaction. Is it best to post during the day? Early morning? Late night? Depends on the demographics of your audience; teenagers will be up late on Facebook, while older adults may be on at 5:00am.
  • Let the Audience Choose: After you post a photo album, ask fans which is their favorite photo or post an opened question, like what’s the best part about being a Republican…
  • Mix It Up: Don’t be afraid to post content that’s not related to your industry or message. Remember, not everyone wants all politics all the time, use relevant current events to put a human face on your Facebook page. If the Civil War game is this weekend, ask your fans who going to win the game.

What did I miss? What are some strategies that you found that work for your organization? Please share and ask.

What’s the Future of Politics & Social Media?

Mashable, one of my favorite blogs to keep tabs on social media trends has recently published a post about 4 key predictions of the future social media and politics. This is a very interesting take on how social media will become an ever-important piece of the campaign puzzle. This post is a must read for any campaign and political guru and operative looking to gain insights into what’s next on the social media horizon for political organizations and campaigns.

The following post is written by Matt Silverman, a social media expert and Mashable contributor.

4 Predictions for the Future of Politics & Social Media via Mashable

Mashable, one of my favorite blogs to keep tabs on social media trends has recently published a post about 4 key predictions of the future social media and politics. This is a very interesting take on how social media will become an ever-important piece of the campaign puzzle. This post is a must read for any campaign and political guru and operative looking to gain insights into what’s next on the social media horizon for political organizations and campaigns.

The following post is written by Matt Silverman, a social media expert and Mashable contributor.

Show me a modern political candidate who doesn’t understand television, and I’ll show you a loser.
When TV became the dominant medium for Americans to consume news and entertainment, political candidates could no longer be successful without looking polished in televised debates, appearing on talk shows and spending big on commercials.

Like the television boom of the 1960s, we are standing on the precipice of a big shift in how public figures are perceived and how campaigns are conducted. Our frontier is social media, and its impact on mainstream political culture is coming on fast.

While my colleagues have been making their predictions about what’s on the tech and social media horizon in 2011, there will be no major U.S. elections next year. Here, we’ll be postulating about social media’s impact on the more long-term future of American civics.

1. There Will Be a Tipping Point

While campaigning and marketing share many similarities, the differences mean everything when you’re talking about democracy’s big picture. Brands can sell by hitting a tech savvy demographic of influencers. Elections involve everyone, whether they’re online or not.

If a large bloc of your constituency is made up of 65+ year-old retirees, chances are a Facebook strategy won’t be time well spent. Despite the enthusiasm of the tech crowd and blogosphere, Twitter is exceedingly far from the mainstream, with only 6% of Americans using the service. And while the world consumes YouTube videos at a mind-bending rate, viral success is still transient and elusive.

While these tools have certainly proven to be effective in rallying support and contributions, we don’t yet live in a world where social media can make or break a political candidate by itself.

That will change, perhaps even by the next major election cycle.

The future of the social media politician is not about wild speculation and technological uncertainties. It has everything to do with when and how deeply social media can be absorbed into mainstream culture. We are on track for a tipping point — a JFK/Nixon TV debate moment — when everyone on the political scene will acknowledge that we can never go back to campaigns without social.

2. New Media Strategists Will Just Be Strategists

I’ve had the opportunity to talk with the new media strategists for a number of senators, congresspeople and political causes. Despite their differences, they all agree that their own jobs will soon be folded into the larger campaign strategy. As many have already foreseen, social media will not require experts for much longer. As we head toward true mainstream adoption, social will be a default and well-understood tool in the belt of any public-facing professional.

We’ve already seen this happening in the private sector with marketing and PR professionals. As many corporate entities lumber to catch up with those on the cutting edge, so too will government officials and the campaigners who seek their offices.

3. We’ll See the Devaluation of Old Media in Politics

Print and radio ads are not as valuable as TV. TV will no longer be as valuable as interactive media. For politics, this is especially so, as the arena (at its best, anyway) warrants engagement and discussion.

As media appetites shift, this is an inevitability. In the U.S., we’re already seeing web use catch up with television in terms of weekly hours spent. Political money will simply go where the eyeballs are, and we’re likely to see a big payoff on social creativity when it comes to future campaigns.

4. Whistle Blowing Gets More Efficient, But That’s It

The WikiLeaks saga has ignited plenty of discussion about journalism and whistle blowing in the Internet age. But at the end of the day, the mechanics of an information leak are about the same as they’ve always been: Someone from within an organization leaks damaging information, and the media (in whatever form) disseminates it to the public. Generally speaking, WikiLeaks has only acted as a “middle man” for raw information. It’s journalists who are making sense of it and transmitting it to the public with context.

The web only speeds up this process through digitization and universal access. Governments and politicians will feel the impact of leaks sooner, but it’s unlikely the methods of protecting sensitive information will be much changed.