As expansive as the use of social media is in 2012, especially for middle income Americans, it would be naïve to think that Facebook and other social media platforms will not play a large role in the Presidential election this year.
Barack Obama has been called the first digital President, and whoever his opponent is in November will not overlook the importance of the Internet in winning the presidency in 2012.
Soccer Moms Strike Back
In 1996 Bill Clinton won a second term over then Kansas Senator Bob Dole. Clinton famously referred to a new key demographic as crucial in his Electoral College landslide. The now infamous “Soccer Moms” were married suburban housewives with school aged children. They were often characterized as mini-van driving liberal sociopaths who were conceited and exalted their children like adolescent demi-gods. Living vicariously through their little ones, their stereotypical personalities became hated by mainstream America, but coveted as a demographic for aspiring politicians.
In 2012 there is another strong female demographic that will be just as powerful, and an even more coveted voting block than the soccer moms of legend; enter the Dot Moms.
Dot Moms are basically the same demographic as the soccer moms of the 1990s, only more sophisticated, influential and informed. They’re tech-savvy and social. They’ve also branched out, and expanded as a group and through personal growth.
The Dot Moms include so many different demographics that it is almost practical to include every female between 22 and 50 that spends more than an hour online per week. Women don’t need children to share the same beliefs and informal alliances.
The Internet has become ubiquitous with the vocal minorities who make movements and protests seem much larger than they actually are. Dot moms have a scalable influence that their predecessors did not, and they know how to exploit it.
Dot Moms Have Large Networks and Influence
A study released last year by the NPD group stated that 79 percent of U.S. women with children under the age of 18 were active on Social Media. The same study also provided a clue to how they use their influence through social media. 23 percent of the women surveyed say they have made a purchasing decision regarding a children’s product as a result of a recommendation from a connection through a social networking site or a blog. As women become more active online, they become even more likely to be influenced through these channels. When women started using social media daily, the occurrence rate of women who purchased a children’s product as a result of an online recommendation rose from 23 percent to 43 percent. The more women use Facebook and read blogs, the more likely they are to be influenced by one or the other.
Other surveys have shown that women in this group have larger networks than both their husbands and their children. Current Gen X females with children have friend lists that span three generations and include not only their own friends, but friends of their parents and friends of their children. With the shift away from personal networks to networks based on interests (such as Pinterest and Chime.in) stay at home moms have expanded their networks even farther from the realm of personal acquaintances.
Lost in Translation?
The major question concerning the Dot Moms when it comes to political influence is how well product suggestions translate to influence in the political realm. Deal a day bargain hunters have managed to stay totally amicable and friendly as the Dot Mom situation has grown. Even though it seems like the majority of these women are liberal to begin with, discourse has never been their strong suit, and a single outburst can discredit someone in the eyes of their followers indefinitely.
It is also yet to be determined if the Dot moms who do a wonderful job of influencing each other have any influence outside of their chosen spheres. Overall the nation doesn’t like the way Barack Obama has handled the Presidency, and nearly 47 percent would vote for a generic Republican over Obama’s 42 percent if the election were today. A conservative turn from the women of the Internet would have a much bigger impact than liberal women voting as expected.
In my opinion, the lines have been drawn too dark this year for many people to cross them. Regardless of influence in unlikely places, it’s going to take more persuasion to alter a vote than it does to switch to Pampers. There is a great deal of influence with the Dot Moms to be had, but any political marketing will have to cross several degrees of connection to make a difference when the conduits have already chosen their sides.