Social Media and Electoral Politics: What I have learned about the connection between social media and political campaigns

Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix. 1830. Oil on canvas, 260 x 325 cm. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberty_Leading_the_People

1. Social Media encourages engagement between politicians and their supporters.

  • Even though it may not seem so at a glance, political campaigns and social media campaigns follow the same structure that allows a deeper engagement between the politician and their audience, “Social media really just makes it easier for politicians to find, listen to, and engage with their supporters during their election campaigns” (Jenn 2019).

2. You can tell a successful politician by their Twitter account

  • According to Nguyen, “the already established and popular politicians are those who gain most from their Twitter use” (2018). This is because Twitter is a media platform based on debate and social change; it encourages honest opinions and blunt conversations that often define politicians.
  • For instance, Obama’s popular Twitter account played a significant role in his election as the President of the U.S. (Nichols 2021).

3. Facebook “bubbles” set political boundaries between voters

  • Wong, Levin, and Solon’s exceptional study made people on the left and on the right side of the political spectrum swap feeds, and all the participants agreed that “the Facebook feed “the other side” [seemed] largely wrong” (2016). 
  • This means that our media consumption structures our political views and vice-versa, so that politicians can use social media algorithms to their favour and attract voters on either side by posting content catered to them. Meanwhile, people on “different sides” or “bubbles” will never cross each other’s paths.

4. Voters = Buyers!

  • In the age of Neoliberalism, voters are treated as consumers, and politicians are trying their best to “sell” themselves in the most attractive package (Nichols 2021)
  • Politicians become “brands”; they even hire social media managers that would create content for them and write speeches so that they could attract more followers, thus winning in the “social media” elections and becoming more attractive to the younger generation.
  • Politicians can manipulate their social media use to create messages appealing to their followers’ desires.
  • You can think of politicians as influencers promoting their content online, and promoting a candidate is, essentially, the same as doing a promotion of your personal blog, only with more socio-political consequences.

5. You can apply content creation to work in politics!

  • The role of Press Secretary allows experiencing all the pleasure of creating web content while being in a highly prestigious political position, such as the role of campaign press secretary.
  • Your tasks would include “Updating the Official website and ‘Executing SM posts,’ etc. (Nichols 2021).
  • This career could be even more beneficial in the future, with the elections potentially being moved online. 

Sources:

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