The question of whether or not politicians should use social media has in the recent past attracted divided opinions. Some people believe that the use of social sites alone cannot win someone an election. While they have a point in thinking like that, the prevalence of social media cannot be overlooked in all spheres of life. Given the popularity of social sites such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter across all age groups, the manner in which campaigns are handled has changed dramatically. The paper highlights the notable ways in which the social media tools have altered campaigns.
It is a well-known fact that social media tools are free to sign-up and posting content costs no penny. As a result, political aspirants can connect with voters directly at no cost. According to Carter (2014), using the social sites allows them to evade the conventional methods of reaching voters such as paid ads which are not only expensive but also time-consuming. It is a common phenomenon today for politicians to publish commercials for free on their Twitter Handle, YouTube, and Facebook instead of paying for radio or television ads. Similarly, they have become influential organizational tools in campaigns as supporters of a particular candidate can easily share information with others on matters such as campaign events. The share and retweet features on Facebook and Twitter respectively have been fundamentally useful to politicians at the time of campaigns.
The ability to tailor messages and content to suit a particular audience makes the social media sites special for politicians. Political aspirants can easily gather information about the voters who follow them on social media which allows them to tailor the content based on demographical factors. A message that is suitable for the youth below thirty years may not be effective to voters aged fifty years and above. Getting real-time feedback from voters can help politicians to change their strategy and to address voters’ concerns (Carter, 2014). Today, politicians are hiring individuals to manage their social media tools. A modern campaign without well-run social sites may not effectively receive feedback from the public, whether negative or positive. Facebook and Twitter allow politicians to promptly assess how the voters are responding to a particular controversy. They can then alter their campaigns accordingly without having to engage expensive political analysts.
The power to lobby and influence as many people as possible makes the social media sites ideal for every politician. In America, for instance, special interest groups and activists have in the past used the social media sites to petition President Donald Trump’s regime and other elected officials on matters of governance. A major reason why social media is effective is because it is non-discriminative. Generally, the older generation make up a sizeable portion of voters in most jurisdictions, but Facebook and Twitter are influencing the young voters (Tom, 2019). President Donald Trump was arguably the most successful politician to leverage on twitter to energize the youth during his campaigns.
Prior to elections, the use of social media sites helps voters understand election rules and regulations. A research conducted in the UK established that before elections, 26% of electorate understood political parties and policy positions through social medial platforms which influenced them to vote (Tom, 2019). In response, political parties are also tapping into social media to make their candidates popular than their rivals. The Labor Party, in the UK, for instance, spend in excess of 70 million dollars to popularize itself and its candidates, mainly through social media.
In a nutshell, the popularity of social media has instantaneously altered the way campaigns are run today. Undoubtedly, politicians can easily publish campaign content and broadcast it to millions of voters at minimal or no cost at all. More importantly, politicians can monitor the actions of their rivals and adjust accordingly.
Carter, D. P. (2014). Social media aspects: Social media activism: Using social media for your cause or campaign. Lexington: Ky Publishers.
Tom, M. (January 14, 2019). How Social Media Has Changed Politics. Retrieved from https://www.thought.com/how-social-media-has-changed-politics-3367534