Online social networking has become a key ingredient in social capital, especially when launching a political campaign to endorse either a political issue or even a political candidate. Facebook and Twitter have become, in the modern era, very influential in the quest for information dispersement, and political actors are aware of the profound impact that these social networking sites have. Pasek et al. (2009) found that SNS use was positively correlated with civic engagement, with Facebook being more strongly correlated to political knowledge than Myspace. They also found that, aside from SNS use, informational Internet use was also positively correlated to political knowledge. This means that the Internet and social networking play key roles in how audiences obtain information about a politically salient issue.
However, the problem with measuring success of a political campaign can become difficult. There are two different types of metrics describes by Karpf (2010): tactical metrics versus strategic metrics. Tactical metrics are easy to measure (number of Twitter followers, retweets, etc.) while strategic metrics, the more important of the two metrics because it measures success, can be is more difficult to measure. Karpf emphasizes that persuasion is key in mobilizing a campaign, and just because a person has a high tactical number of followers does not mean that people are being persuaded because they could already have been supporters.
And so, the question becomes, how can political actors with a specific goal ensure that their campaigns are successful on social networking sites? What methods of persuasion can they utilize and is it possible to truly persuade someone about something over a portal like Twitter? If it is a partisan concept, how can they persuade people of the opposite political affiliation without that direct, face-to-face contact?