Monday, October 19, 2015

Political Campaigns and Social Media

By: Edie Lotus 

(Google Images)

It's an idea drilled into the heads of mine and my peers constantly... "Watch what you post on social media!" and "Make sure you have a good and clean social media footprint if you want to stand out!".

This warning and emphasis on having a clean and positive presence in the world of social media is something college students like myself hear regularly as we approach the beginning of our professional careers. 

The same goes for politicians... By making sure their personal media is not only clean but strategic, politicians now can implement SM into their campaign to help shape voters views and promote their campaign. 

So how exactly are politicians using SM?

Well for starters, to simply engage their voters. The Twitter-sphere is all about conversation, but for politicians, SM is a way for anybody with a handle to get in on the talk and share their opinion. On Twitter voters can talk with friends, families, and even strangers about the latest politics and by politicians being present they're not just able to monitor that conversation but spark it as well. 

This was definitely the case for President Barack Obama in the 2012 election... Just looking at the numbers there's no doubting it's positive impact on his campaign.

(Image from: post)

In a post on writer John Koetsier elaborates on President Obama's SM success comparing not only the numbers between Present Obama and Mitt Romney's social networks but their content as well. Where Romney uses his Twitter for updates on who's joined his campaign, President Obama used Twitter to share risky but strong view points on topics such as gay marriage which brought in thousands of RT's and mentions. Koetsier concluded from this data with the statement, "Republicans better get down on their knees and pray that Americans never vote via Facebook or Twitter.". 

Politicians can also use SM to connect with their voters in a more laid-back and friendly way. We see Hilary Clinton doing this successfully through SnapChat, a SM platform rarely used by politicians, by posting new and fun content to grab the attention of younger audiences. In an article by CNN, we hear from Clinton's Digital Director Katie Dowd who says "we are producing our own content and we are thinking about how to make it viral, how to make it successful....There is a constant need to want to be current and educational and inspiring and relevant in terms of how we put content in front of people". Dowd sums up perfectly why politicians should want to have this friendly conversation with their audience. 

New technology and SM outlets influence nearly everything in our modern world that's why finally, politicians can use SM as a cheap and efficient way to sway a person's vote.

For example, if someone's excited about a politician and they have a strong SM presence, this only further excites the already positive voter. In contrast, someone with a negative view on a politician sees constant positive reinforcements throughout their SM feed from followers they know and trust are more likely to change their mind and be more open to a candidate.

Overall, politicians shouldn't want to be on SM sites... They should view it as a critical part of their campaign.

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