Update: This project has been approved.
Category: Louisiana U.S. Senate election
For this project, we want to create a hashtag (#TigersVote) and measure its use within the LSU community during the 2014 Louisiana U.S. Senate Election (including December runoff). The purpose of this study is to use one particular aspect of social media sites (a hashtag) to engage the LSU community around the upcoming election. We are particularly interested in what social media platforms are used by the LSU Community for election-related posts and how students will build off of the hashtag to create any new content related to voting or the election.
We plan to organize the project into five different steps:
Step 1: Set date to launch hashtag and designate social media platforms
We currently plan to launch the hashtag and campaign on October 28th (one week before the general election) and track its use and impact until December 6th (the date of the potential runoff election).
Platforms utilized for the project will be Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Each social media service allows the use of hashtags. Additionally, we will be able to search for content on each site using the #TigersVote hashtag and even potentially use third party services like Talkwalker or Tagboard for a more advanced analysis.
Step 2: Reach Out to Relevant Groups to encourage use of the hashtag
- Reach out to Senate and congressional campaigns to encourage use of the hashtag by official pages and accounts
- Reach out to university administration to encourage use of the hashtag on LSU-affiliated pages
- Reach out to Student Government, Student Political Organizations, and the Greek community to encourage student engagement
Step 3: Engage students in Free Speech Alley
On November 3rd, the day prior to the general election, we will reserve a table in LSU’s Free Speech Alley (in front of the LSU Student Union) and hand out stickers with an LSU logo and the hashtag, #TigersVote.
On December 5th, the day prior to the potential runoff election, we will reserve a table in LSU’s Free Speech Alley and hand out stickers with an LSU logo and the hashtag, #TigersVote.
By tabling just prior to the elections, we can track any potential effects that the stickers will have on hashtag use through social media networks. We are choosing NOT to table during Election Day as we anticipate an above average response and would be unable to distinguish differences between election effects and the stimuli.
Step 4: Collect and Aggregate Data
After the election is over, we will collect and aggregate data from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram from the time measured. We plan to analyze the amount of content generated, retweets (on Twitter), shares (on Facebook), who uses the hashtag and in what groups, and how far the hashtag travels through and beyond the LSU Community. As mentioned previously, we would like to potentially use Talkwalker or Tagboard to allow us to look at specific points in time and compare data across platforms.
Step 5: Timetable and Final Report
We plan on taking a few weeks to analyze the data and then begin to write a final report. We understand that while this is Fall semester project, because the runoff election occurs past the November 17th deadline, it does not fit the parameters of a fall semester project. Therefore, we will plan to finish the report in January 2015 and allow the possibility of presenting the paper or project outside of the Manship School.
Measuring success regarding any increased in the student’s political activity as a result of using the hashtag would be incredibly difficult. As such, we plan to measure success or failure primarily by the amount of use the hashtag creates – in other words, how “viral” the hashtag goes. If we can get a measurable effect from the hashtag, including use by the major candidates running for office, we believe that the project will be incredibly successful.