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Politicians using social media in campaigns

People expect to get bombarded with advertisements during election season, but now a mayoral candidate in Saratoga Springs has found a new medium in Facebook.

In recent years, politicians have begun using Facebook by creating candidate pages, inviting people to events and encouraging constituents to "like" them. Now the ante has been raised, as Facebook allows cheap and very targeted advertisements, which Democrat Brent Wilkes is taking advantage of.

"It was a slam dunk to do it," said Wilkes.

He said the advertisements are only seen by demographics that he wants. When designing a Facebook advertisement, a promoter is able to target age, interests and location.

The promotions for Wilkes, who also has a candidate page, appear under a sponsored section and are quite varied in themes and pictures. All of the advertisements, though, encourage viewers to "like" what they see and read. "I think its probably a great way to reach voters, especially younger voters," he said.

Wilkes also has a Twitter account that his wife manages.

By taking advantage of these cheap means of mass exposure, Wilkes said he is demonstrating that he knows how to manage and plan effectively.

"I think we're trying to use the social media more and more because more and more people are using it," he said. "I'm certainly using it more than my opponent."

Republican incumbent Mayor Scott Johnson has not taken the same steps with social media, but he does have an active candidate page on Facebook.

"It's kind of typical for posting recent events and things coming up," Johnson said. "We set it up just for this campaign."

He felt that Facebook is a venue for him to reach a younger demographic. Most of the content on his Facebook page, he said, can be found on his website, which has been up for about five years.

Follow all of the Daily Gazette's political coverage on Twitter at @GazettePolitics.

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