Facebook likes the “I’m voting because …” photo gallery

Nov 20 2012

Facebook has become a huge part of our lives. It tells us when we are “friends” with someone and lets us share our opinions and stories with the world.

Facebook creator Mark Zuckerburg recently announced that there are more than one billion active users on Facebook.

The amount of time that these users seem to spend on Facebook played a large role in the success of a recent WhichWayNC.com event.

Before Election Day, we decided to host an “I’m voting because…” photo booth on campus.

Here’s what we did: We set up a white backdrop near Carroll Hall on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. We handed passers-by whiteboards and markers and invited them to write about why they were going to vote in the upcoming election. Staff photographers from the Reese News Lab took portraits of each participant, and we posted the resulting photo gallery on Facebook.

We had no idea that the photos from the event would be one of our most-clicked-ever stories.

We suspect that this is because for many people, the best part about Facebook is the pictures. While some people don’t often write statuses about their daily lives, they will like pictures of their friends.

This is what Facebook has become: making a record of your life – every event, every feeling – documented for the world to see.

The same logic applies when it comes to the presidential election.

Facebook was full of users’ statements about their choice in the election and their opinions on specific policies.

These aspects are probably what made the “ I’m voting because…” picture so popular. The pictures documented people’s opinions in a fun, pictorial way that showed why citizens want to vote.

Some showed the sense of civic duty that they, as Americans, feel about voting, while others said they voted because of their political beliefs. No one ever had just one reason for voting, and that variety is what made the gallery interesting to look through.

Our photo gallery engaged 904 users (580 unique users) in the first 28 days. We also had 293 users “like,” comment or share our content. This gives us a 50.52 percent rate of virility, which means that just over half of the people who saw our pictures actually did something with them such as commented, “liked” or shared our content.

This is a huge jump from the only 205 people (and only eight engaged users) whom we reached when we initially sent out a Facebook invitation for the event.

One puzzling fact about our photo gallery was that while the majority of people who looked at the photo gallery “liked” our pictures, no one from the photo shoot went to our website and tagged him or herself.

We were able to tag some people in the photos and those did receive more “likes,” but for the most part Facebook users didn’t seem to care if they knew who was in the picture. They seemed to “like” and even share the pictures based on if they agreed with the person’s reason for voting — not who was in the picture.

Even weeks after the event, photos from the gallery were still being “liked” almost daily, continuing to make it our most viral event ever.

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