Social networking is the biggest thing to happen to political campaigns since television, and this medium is rapidly changing the way candidates reach voters. We first saw heavy use of social media tactics with the 2008 presidential election. You could “friend” the candidate you planed to vote for on Facebook or “follow” them on Twitter. If you chose to do so, you were given access to immediate updates from the campaign trail and information on platforms in quick, bite-sized pieces of information that were easily digestible. The trend of using social media in political campaigns has only strengthened since 2008; now almost all candidates have Facebook pages and a presence on other sights such as Twitter, Linkedin and Gist.
Political campaigns are benefiting greatly from the use of social networking. The sights help to lend transparency and credibility to political campaigns by eliminating a middleman. Voters can go straight to a candidate’s Facebook page and read facts straight from the candidate, rather than receiving biased information from a third party. Michigan House of Representatives member, Justin Amash, began posting his votes, along with a short explanation from the House floor as his Facebook statuses. He immediately received feedback from his “friends”, both good and bad. Since starting this, Amash has gained popularity and even announced his candidacy for the US Senate through his fan page.
Social networking sites also offer the ability for candidates to access a wide variety of voters inexpensively. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and various other social networking sites also allow people to be the voice for candidates, which could either make or break them. If a candidate has supporters touting their name all over their profile, then they are likely to receive more attention. If people are constantly talking about how great somebody is then other people are going to think that candidate is a good choice. Refer back to the last presidential election and this is seen clearly.
All in all, social networking has evolved the way political campaigns are carried out. No longer can candidates rely on traditional tactics, rather they have to continuously keep their publics informed through status updates, tweets, etc.
Sarah McIntosh, Eliza Wadson, Jocelyn Walson, Sean O’Connell