The Emerging Role of Social Media in Politics

4 Nov

Technology has played a major role in politics for the past seven decades. From FDR’s Fireside Chats to the Kennedy –Nixon televised debate in 1960, media has swayed public opinion vastly. Not only do candidates have to be strong on issues pertaining to foreign policy and unemployment, but the ability to charm the public like an actor on the Red Carpet is also a vital asset on the campaign trail. Now candidates in the 2012 presidential election have the social media world to address. Granted, this technology has been around for about a decade, but now more than ever is this advancement being used across the globe.

Bizreport.com states that, “According to Digitas 82% of US adults use social media, and 88% of those are registered voters… Furthermore, almost two-thirds (61%) expect candidates to have a presence on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.”

“In at least the last two election cycles, digital media has taken a profound a role in determining our next president as TV did in earlier generations,” said Jordan Bitterman, SVP and Social Marketing Practice Director, Digitas. “But the results of this new research show that the extraordinary power of social networks to connect us and build relationships may have even greater impact on who wins in 2012.”

Another interesting fact is that the average age of a voter in 2008 was 44 years old. That means that when most of these voters were growing up, they probably owned one of the first Apple or IBM personal computers, played Atari on their TV and have come to use Facebook and e-mail as part of their personal and professional adult lives. This generation has grown up with technology like no other and continues to thrive in this market. Of course this would play into political decisions and social responsibility.

If the median age of voters plays into the technology aspect of politics, then just think about the younger voters starting at age 18. Bizreport found that “Over half (51%) of young social media users (18-34) will search social media for information on who to vote for compared with 38% of 35-44 year olds, 29% of 45-54 year olds and 23% of those aged 55 and over; The vast majority (86%) of social media users own a mobile device as do 88% of social media users who are registered voters; 38% said that social media will have the same influence on their vote as would traditional media such as television and radio.”

Social media is changing the way we view candidates which also influences how fundraising is approached. Through political ads via Google or Yahoo, or Twitter tweets and Facebook posts, this upcoming election will be greatly influenced by what voters see, how they donate, and what they share via social media.

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