Candidates Still Getting Used to Social Media

30 Apr

I admit that I’m still getting used to the whole social media world. It almost feels like a marketing science experiment: if I post at this time on this day of the week while highlight a specific topic, will my results be higher or lower than my previous one? I know I’m hardly alone; many presidential candidates are also testing the waters of political fundraising using online resources.

I came across an interesting article on IndyStar.com that discusses some intriguing issues that the candidates are facing using the medium of internet communication. In the past politicians could debate on TV, send out flyers heralding their accomplishments and pay for ads in the newspaper declaring their stand on pertinent issues. However, many are turning to Facebook and Twitter to garner support with various results; now the voters can instantly respond which is causing both positive and negative effects.

So why would candidates risk having negative comments written on their Facebook pages? “It’s as much an issue about campaign and candidate identity as anything else,” states Kristina Sheeler, who studies political communication as chairwoman of the Department of Communication Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. “If you’re not using Facebook and Twitter, you risk being labeled an old-fashioned candidate.”

Twitter hashtags are getting impressive results in many campaign strategies by drawing in followers who otherwise might never have looked at a candidate’s tweets. One example is when President Obama in a speech in Chapel Hill, N.C. urged students to tweet to lawmakers using the hashtag #dontdoublemyrate to oppose an increase in student loan interest rates. Many politicians are also using Twitter to post stances and opinions to their followers and are even responding to voter comments and questions to create a two-way dialogue that was previously unheard of. This added attention is creating a new platform to reach additional voters with amazing success.

Furthermore, social media has been a recent method for the people to police political claims. There are tens if not hundreds of websites out there that rebuttal arguments and verify facts. If knowledge is power, than our society got a whole lot stronger in the political realm with the implementation of the internet.

Finally, with politicians connecting and communicating online, donations have also seen a dramatic increase due to internet fundraising. Personal and political websites, Facebook pages and online donation sites such as Fundly are making giving that much easier while also connecting to social media outlets.

Social media is certainly making an impact on politics, both locally and nationally. In this new era, it is important for candidates to experiment in this cyber realm to garner voter attention, support and dollars.

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