By: Austin Jensen
“It won’t be a question of how candidates use social media, but what candidates are saying on social media, and I think that’s good for the democratic process.”
November 4th is quickly approaching, and with it, commercials upon commercials of political campaign advertising. We see it every time we get close to an election. We see negative ads from opposing parties and we see positive ads. What we have not seen until recently is the use of social media within politics. Just 4 years ago, it would have been considered “ground breaking” for a politician to be using social media for their campaigning. Now, over 90% of politicians use social media to promote their plans and to open themselves up to greater communication with the general public (the voters).
Facebook is by far the leader of all social media platforms for politicians and it would be tough to find a politician who is not represented with a Facebook page these days. It is just as essential as a business having a Facebook presence. There are some other social networks that have begun to emerge with this most recent election. An NBC news article states that 94% now have Twitter accounts. It does not end there, from Instagram, YouTube, Vine, and even Snapchat.
Facebook has become very good at attracting politicians and has really gotten the ball rolling with social media being used in campaigning. If you have a personal Facebook then you probably saw this during the last election. Facebook asks if you have voted and will show which of your friends have made it public that they have voted. One of the biggest influences on our decisions are our friends and family. Politicians now know that if they can use your friends to encourage you to get to the polls, then they may have a better shot. According to one academic study, about 340,000 extra voters in the 2010 midterm elections were generated by this Facebook feature reminding people to vote on election day. Facebook does plan to utilize this feature again this year.
Even though it is tough to quantify the exact numbers and bottom line of using social media in campaigns, it is still essential to being a politician in today’s world. It is a cheap way to reach the masses. It is also an easy way to generate advertising that is sent to the right people who want to see your ads, through Facebook’s targeting features.
This is a trend that I believe will continually grow with every election. Do you think that voting numbers among the heavy social media users (18-24) will be greater this election? Has political social media influenced you in anyway? Do you think this is a good place for politics? I want to hear all of your questions and comments.