Sunday, November 7, 2010

Can John Stewart and Stephen Colbert Make You Vote?

On October 30, Comedy Central comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert decided to try to make a difference. Their Rally to Restore Sanity, held in Washington D.C., was aimed at people who think the loudest voices aren’t the only ones that should be heard. According to CBS News, the rally had a turnout of 215,000 people. This great turnout could be attributed to Stewart and Colbert’s use of social media.

One may think the 2008 election boosted the voter turnout of the country’s youth. However, despite Obama’s Facebook page personally designed by the founders of Facebook, his campaign only boosted youth turnout by a meager 2.1 percent. These statistics may raise doubts about whether two Comedy Central comedian-hosts will be able to use social media to raise numbers.

Stewart and Colbert may be able to increase youth voting through their presence on Facebook and Twitter. Colbert has already raised an abundance of funds online, and both his and Stewart’s late-night shows appeal to the demographic in which they are trying to encourage voting.

Attendees of the Rally to Restore Sanity were encouraged to RSVP to the Facebook event “Election Day.” On Election Day, voters also got to display an “I Voted” badge on their Facebook page for their friends to see. As more people clicked that they voted, the numbers continued to increase throughout the day, showing the amount of Facebook users who were headed to the polls.

Stewart and Colbert encouraged attendees to sign in to the rally using Foursquare or Gowalla, which display location checkpoints on users’ friends’ news feeds. Voters could also use these sites to check into their polling locations. If that wasn’t enough to spread the word, there is a Rally for Sanity iPhone application and a #RallyForSanity hashtag, which Twitter users could include in their posts to make the rally a trending topic.

What do you think about Stewart and Colbert’s social media outreach?

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