In which way does Social Media impact upon the way we vote?

Because of its prolification in the 21st century, Social Media has been utilized for a number of different uses because of its connectivity. Due to the overall potency of the medium, it has now been used from a political perspective to aid in the election process by a number of different political parties, in order to reach out the population of the digital age.

Dr Pamela Rutledge, director of the media psychology research centre, writes how the idea of political progression has changed within the advancements of social media; how it has changed from being almost a controlling political faculty to offering the control to the people, and how this change allows a far more democratic political response.

‘Social media creates a new politcal dialogue, it takes the power of political messaging away from mass media, and places it firmly into peer to peer discourse.’ (Rutledge, P. 2013)

Perhaps the most famous and successful examples of the use of online politcal campaign is that of Barack Obama’s in his 2008 and 2012 elections, but not only has it gathered fame due to its success but because he was the first presidential candidate to use Social Media in an effective way as part of a major campaign strategy.

Obama first developed his campaign in 2008 by employing a team that had had an understanding of the concept of networking, and in his 2012 campaign he spent a huge 47 million on furthing his presidential application digitally. Obamas links with mass media platforms are evident, as his website ‘Barackobama.com’ is run by Chris Hughes, who is one of the co founders of facebook. Hughes himself has described the website as a ‘Sort of social network.’ (Lewin, J. 2008)

In 2007 prior to Obamas campign, a link was created between a users account on the Barack Obama official website and Facebook, which allowed the user to share information via the mass media platform so that post sharing was quick, easy and widespread amoungst the active Facebook community.
On twitter in 2011 Obama had managed to attract the amount of followers on any other account on the site. He was also the thirs user to reach 10 million followers.

2012-social-media-spending

Due to the success of Obamas 2008 election, he began influencing other politicians to do the same. Including his opposing candidate Mitt Romney. Romney attempted to create a digital campaign realising the success of the 2008 Campaign, however it fell inferior to Obamas, after only 4.7 was spent on it.
Due to the results that utilizing Social Media brings it has become a mandatory aspect of the politcal process. As Dr rutledge mentions that Social media is ‘No longer an exciting new frontier’ for politcal campaigning, and that ‘Social media is a now a normal, and central form of communication.’ (Rutledge, P. 2013)

This evidence demonstrates that although initially the use of Social Networking proved key in polical voting campaigns, the relevence of it has demonstrated that it now is simply an expected aspect of a strong campaign, and it has become a necessity in the modern politcal campaign.

Sources:

Lewin, J. 2008. Is social media behind Obama’s Success? New Media update. [Online] Available at: http://www.podcastingnews.com/content/2008/06/is-social-media-behind-barack-obamas-success/ Accessed November 29th, 2013.

Rutledge, P. 2013. How Obama Won the Social Media Battle in the 2012 Presidential Campaign. The media psychology blog. [online] Available at: http://mprcenter.org/blog/2013/01/25/how-obama-won-the-social-media-battle-in-the-2012-presidential-campaign/ Accessed: November 29th, 2013.

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