Social Media Impacting Politics: How Politicians Benefited From Social Media
In the wake of a social media era, the world population records upto 2.46 billion social media users worldwide in 2017 and a further projected 2.95 billion by 2020. This translates to a third of the entire global population. Social media is redefining the world, from communication channels to businesses strategies to politics. Lest we forget the very basic, our household operations.what are effects of social media.
Don’t take my word for it.
Remember that appliance that home decor piece you shopped online? What about the one from the marketing post? People are actively selling and shopping on Facebook and Instagram.
This however is not our topic of discussion today. Today we take an insight on how social media is impacting politics on our back yards.
Social media is rising to become one of the most powerful tools on the internet. Dating back a few decades ago social media was only popular among the youthful population. It did not enjoy much vigor and energy as it is now.
Over the years, this has changed tremendously. I mean, who hasn’t heard of Facebook today? I see the granny next door post photos of her cats every morning.
In the past decade, social media has taken over politics too. We have seen leaders take advantage of the powerful tool to develop their political careers. This has revolutionized the entire political landscape. Initially, in most countries the role of politics was mostly taken up by influential individuals from higher social status.
This maybe owed to a couple of reasons including; the cost of the taking part in the venture or social beliefs that ruling families provided naturally born leaders. This greatly disadvantaged potential leaders who had no chance to present their views and sell their ideas. Leave alone afford the venture.
A tale that was reshaped as the world witnessed the swearing in of the first black president of the USA in 2008. It follows that Obama was among the first leaders to use the power of social media to win the hearts of the American voter population. Enjoying a region with the highest social media penetration, Obama made history on his presidential victory.
Enough talk and history lessons!
How has social media helped politicians?
One of the best ideas about social media is that, it is just a social platform. It is free to use and it does not discriminate.
1. Improved the Campaigns process
The social media platform is a global platform. Unlike the mainstream media that covers a proportion of the population, social media offers a wider coverage which provides the leaders with a proper platform to sell their ideas and thoughts to the voters.
We review a case of the 2016 elections in the US where Trump was only endorsed by 6 media stations. This was a significantly lower number compared to the overwhelming support forClinton. However, taking advantage of the social media influence, Trump who is said to record the highest number of mentions on Twitter than all the other most mentioned candidates (seven of them combined) managed to carry the day.
President Donald Trump made use of the social media platform to popularize his candidacy.Trump managed to ride the tides of social media supremacy to boost his campaigns.
2. Creation of Civil Awareness
Social media platform has provided a platform for political leaders to enlighten the ordinary citizens on their civic duties, rights and obligations.
In regions where the political participation of the citizens remains wanting, example in wider parts of Africa, a large proportion of the population fails to understand and appreciate their political roles such as voting leading poor leadership and governance.
In the USA the older generation is said to contribute the largest proportion of voters while the younger population remains uncertain about their role in political participation.
Thanks to social media supremacy, politicians are able to influence their followers to take up roles seriously.
3. Push for forums
Sitting in the hot afternoon history class, I remember my teacher say that oppositions have always played a role in democracies by “keeping the government on its toes”.
Opposition political leaders now enjoy the social media platform to push for alternative policies and forums that may benefit the ordinary citizens.
Take an instance of the popular BREXIT and Obama care campaigns, the political leaders capitalized on their influence over social media followers to push for the ideologies they supported. This is becoming an increasingly growing trend over the years.
4. Contact with citizens and voters.
Barrack Obama reaching out to the voters. Social media has improved contact between politicians and voters.but what are negative effects of social media on peoples.some times social media updates are fake.
Politicians are able to connect with the voter and the citizen at the most basic level. Social media has risen over all the communication barriers, it has basically brought as down to the same level where you as a leader can interact with the voters.
Leaders can now enjoy borrowing ideas, policies and just feeling the connection to the people they govern. This is not only beneficial to the leader but also to me as a voter. I can get to question your campaign promises and policies you haven’t delivered on.The politicians can now understand and appreciate the voice of the voters.
5. Lower costs of advertising
Facebook live, YouTube uploads, tweets, Facebook posts, they are all free and reach to people fast,This is effects of social media on peoples. Welcome to the cheaper world of convenience.
Unlike the earlier times when political leaders had to flash a lot of resources to pay for numerous TV ads, set up field offices, erect highest billboards and hire campaign trails to tour the whole country.
While some of this modes of advertising may bear fruit. Politicians can slash their campaign advertising expenditures significantly by diversifying their strategies and still create an impact on the voters.
Trump did it with arguably very limited resources and social capital from the Republicans.
6. Conduct fundraising
Politicians today get to enjoy unlimited coverage to raise funds from their followers, sponsors and well- wishers via the various platforms.
This simple fundraising projects go along away to support the campaigns of the politicians. This was most recently on the just concluded Kenyan election where the opposition leader conducted a fundraising through the party’s social media platforms following the nullification of elections that forced the country to go back to the ballot.
Another better example is Ron Paul a Republican presidential candidate in the US 2008 elections.
7. Reach Specific Audiences
Unlike in the main stream media where adverts are designed for general viewers, the social media enables the politicians to address a specific target audience.
The politicians today can tailor their messages to reach a certain community, a certain age bracket, a certain gender, a certain profession. The freedom to reach out to the desired audience like the youth, the whites, the business society
This improves the influence of the politicians given that they are able to appeal to the desired needs of all the voters. A strategy best applied by Barrack Obama.
8. Evaluating the Public Opinion
If you were to ask the likes of Ronald Reagan or just any other influential politician from the early 20th Century, they would tell you that to understand the effect of a political move on the country it took the effort of highly paid and well- qualified political analysts.
Prudent to say, those days are long gone. Social media has made it better with time. You can access the impact of any new rules, policies, forums, proposals comfortably from Tweeter and Facebook.
People have learned to appreciate the freedom of expression. They will not hesitate to make known what they feel about ideas that affect them directly or indirectly.
9. Urgent Feedback
Politicians today get to enjoy the convenience of accessing urgent response from the public.
In one of such cases, the sitting president of Kenya earlier on the year used this to his advantage by using the Facebook live service to reach out to the voters. The president gave the voters a chance to indulge as he took their questions and comments.
In what seemed like a fair leader to voter conversation, the president was able acquire the required information from participating parties.
10. Initiate Projects
Political leaders are well enabled by the social media platforms and their influence on the society to initiate projects that may be beneficial to community.
Given their positions politicians are well suited to attract investors and sponsors as well as their social media followers. Leaders have been known to apply this strategy in trying to improve the value of life for the less fortunate and the disabled in the society.
In such a move, a prominent politician was able to initiate a project that fought against poaching of elephants and rhinos for their tusks. The move marked a major milestone in conserving an almost extinct species.
The supremacy of social media platform has revolutionized so much in the World today but above all it continues to redefine the concept of proper governance and leadership. Democracy is getting fairer by the day.but what are negative effects of social media people should also focus on this point.
Leaves me thinking, is it possible that we will one day sit at the convenience of our living rooms as lawmakers? Each individual playing a direct role in making of the country laws no representatives, because we are all lawmakers and this are effects of social media on us.