Social media has been rapidly expanding over the past few years, becoming an important part of our everyday lives. From business to sports, it has been transforming the way industries target the American public.
However, one area that has been drastically transformed by the addition of social media is politics.
One such area in politics that has been changed by social media is the way in which elected representatives communicate with their constituents. Many politicians now have Facebook pages where they can post status updates about current issues. Constituents can even post or comment on these Facebook pages, giving quick feedback to representatives.
Twitter is also becoming another useful tool for elected representatives. They can tweet their stance on issues, comment on a speech made by the President, or share links to stories. Constituents can retweet posts made by their representatives, allowing tweets and stories to spread rapidly.
There is a downside to social media, as some representatives have been harassed by citizens through Twitter and Facebook. Just a few days ago, Connecticut State Senator Beth Dye chose to take down her Twitter because of all the negative comments she was receiving after introducing a controversial piece of gun legislation. This is not uncommon, as other representatives have experienced the same problems with social media.
Despite the fact that representatives have been harassed when using social media, it has more pros than cons. The ability to communicate quickly and effectively with constituents makes it easier for representatives to understand the wishes of the people. Social media is truly transforming the way in which our representatives govern.
Social Media in Elections
In the last 2 presidential elections, social media has had a very clear impact on the candidates’ campaigns. In each election, President Obama has dominated the in the use of social media. During the 2012 election, he hosted the first Twitter Town Hall Debate, as well as releasing a weekly address via YouTube that was well received.
In addition to these innovative new ways of connecting with voters, President Obama’s campaign was able to create a sense of community among potential voters. Each person his campaign came in contact with would feel a sense of connection. Many of these people were updated about the campaign through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and emails. This sense of belonging ultimately brought voters to the polls, allowing President Obama to win a second term.
Microtargeting is also another fairly new addition to campaigns, and social media is making it more efficient. Campaigns can now target voters based on lifestyle choices, such as stores frequently visited, magazine subscriptions, and marriage status. With social media, targeting voters through things such as Facebook and YouTube ads has grown more sophisticated. According to Allison Brennan of CNN, “microtargeting makes an uphill process easier for the campaigns.”
Overall, political communication is rapidly changing with the addition of social media. As was evidenced by the recent elections, those politicians that took advantage of social media won. It will be exciting to see what new ways campaigns will use social media in the 2016 presidential election.