Social Media: Political Campaigns and Elections

By Punia, Sumandeep Kaur | Madhya Pradesh Journal of Social Sciences, December 2016 | Go to article overview

Social Media: Political Campaigns and Elections


Punia, Sumandeep Kaur, Madhya Pradesh Journal of Social Sciences


Social media has influenced many aspects of our life be it education, culture, administration, marketing, business or politics. The technology revolution which is known as internet has changed the world by connecting people across the globe. Today youth is increasingly using number of social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Blog and LinkedIn as platforms for communicating with friends, family and colleagues. Social media's quick development shows its influence on society. It is a crucial part of the advancement of information and communication technologies. Social media has been able to make profound impact by means of news, interaction, learning and marketing. Various news channels and tweet provide updates on significant happenings all over the world. The news quickly gets passed around the networks in ways never experienced before. People in different cities, countries and continents can keep in touch effortlessly and social media creates an opportunity to experience different cultures and exchange opinions. It has become a significant part of modern civilisation. It is changing existing information behaviour by giving users access to real-time online information channels without the constraints of time and space.

Since use of the internet has become widespread, individuals use this tool in the political realm of their lives. Printing press, radio, television and the internet have provided useful outlets to give messages out to the citizens. With each advancement, the availability of information has been expanded, making citizens better informed and making the voting process more democratic. Participating in the new technologies is imperative for politicians to stay updated and remain competitive.

With higher literacy rates, politicians have the opportunity to gain the attention of a larger audience. The development of the printing press and newspaper chains has made newspapers a prime resource for media coverage. Television entered the scene, threatening to change the entire landscape of campaigning. It was considered to be capable of providing information to an even broader audience than the previous technologies and bringing politics to the masses with greater accuracy and even faster speed. The latest wave of technology, the internet, has given political campaigning a facelift and has dramatically changed its pattern. It has changed campaigning more than the printing press, radio and television combined. American politicians have campaign websites, to raise fund online, blog, e-mail to citizens and participate in a host of other activities, all made possible by the internet. A citizen can visit a candidate's website, review that platform and then visit an opposing candidate's website and review that platform. The websites of most candidates' also allow visitors to e-mail questions, allowing citizens to communicate with the candidate. Another unique characteristic of the internet, which radio and television do not offer, is that citizens can be interactive with one another and deliver online. All this can be done inexpensively, conveniently and easily on a global scale. It increases the likelihood that citizens will become more engaged and involved but can also increase polarisation (Selvaraj, 2014). In addition to this, online fund raising is a primary motivation of candidates. Internet donors can make a donation anytime as easily as making an ATM transaction.

A closer look at the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama will reveal the role of social media in his elections. The 2008 Obama Presidential campaign made history. Not only was Obama the first African American to be elected president, but he was also the first presidential candidate to effectively use new media as a major campaign strategy. In 2008, his campaign managers used social media effectively by sending voting reminders on twitter and interacting with people on facebook. And through meetup.com, he launched virtual get-together with voters in many different locales simultaneously. …

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