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Heather LaMarre 300

Heather LaMarre is an assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Social media playing major role in 2010 political campaigns, U of M expert says

August 9, 2010

Many Americans turn to Facebook and Twitter to keep up with their friends and the latest in pop culture. But how and to what degree is social media being used by political campaigns during this year’s election season? A University of Minnesota expert who can comment on campaigns’ use of social media is:

Heather LaMarre, assistant professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, College of Liberal Arts

LaMarre, who is currently working on a grant-funded project to study social media’s role in campaign 2010, says that social media is a primary vehicle for campaigns to fundraise and communicate with the base. “Campaigns don't try to use it to persuade independents as much as they use it to get people fired up to give money, volunteer and get out the vote,” LaMarre says.

In the months ahead, LaMarre’s research will be using focus groups to test whether social media is more powerful and efficient than traditional media campaigns. “Right now, no one knows the answer to this, but we do know that campaigns are using social media as a quick, cost-effective way to get ads out and drum up fundraising,” she says.

LaMarre says, in practice, campaigns drop cheap, quick ads onto YouTube and then use Twitter, Facebook, etc. to drive audiences to the ads. If people post them on their own Facebook pages, they “go viral” and can get more play than a 30 second TV ad that they hope voters will happen to watch.

LaMarre's research and teaching interests explore the influence of social media and political entertainment on public opinion, attitudes and behaviors. LaMarre’s work has been featured on MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann, National Public Radio and The Colbert Report.

To interview LaMarre, contact Jeff Falk, University News Service, or (612) 626-1720; or Jen Keavy, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, or (612) 625-8095.

Expert Alert is a service provided by the University News Service. Delivered regularly, Expert Alert is designed to connect university experts to today's breaking news and current events. For an archive and other useful media services, visit Views expressed by experts do not represent the views of the University of Minnesota.

Tags: College of Liberal Arts

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