DOMM-1001-NewsletterPageGraphics-15-05-May-08

Tweeting Their Way Up the Polls

Politicians are gearing up for the upcoming election. They’re looking for creative outlets to communicate their messages to the masses. Social media continues to become a cornerstone for political advertising.

The use of social media is becoming a feature of political engagement for many Americans. Politicians are using it to connect, respond and react. Twitter gained traction in the political world during the 2008 U.S. Presidential campaign when Barack Obama embraced it and utilized it successfully. Now, many others are following suit.

“It was the first campaign where social media was pervasive and he understood it and leveraged it,” Chris Saad, chief strategy officer at Echo said to South Source, a publication of South University.

A third of young people think social media will influence their vote, according to research by Ipsos Mori and King’s College London.

Historically, youth turnout has never been particularly high anywhere in the country, but social media may be changing that. Social media provides a platform and voice for voters. It allows them to share their concerns, opinions and participate in political debates. Sites like Twitter and Facebook break down the barrier between politicians and voters.

Bobby Duffy, managing director of the Ipsos Mori Social Research Institute told The Guardian:

“…This evidence suggests that platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are becoming part of the natural fabric for the group both hardest to engage in politics and whose political opinions are least set in stone – young people. Modern users of social media are sophisticated enough to recognize its disadvantages – and don’t seem to be dropping other news sources entirely – but its potential to widen access to politics could be key in halting the decline in political engagement among younger generations.”

People are paying attention. Social media is making politicians more accessible and more accountable. It allows campaigns to carefully customize and tailor their candidates’ images, as long as it’s done right.

Big names and organizations have suffered serious backlashes due to social media fails. Offensive tweets, questionable ad campaigns or controversial statements can crush a reputation. But, if done correctly, social media can change the course of a campaign positively.

“The use of social media in today’s campaign is not only important – it is critical,” says Hubert “Sonny” Massey, a Business instructor and advisor at South University, Savannah told South Source. “Millions of people are involved in using social networks daily. It is the opportunity to be in touch with large numbers of voters quickly, constantly and at a low cost.”

Social media isn’t going anywhere. It’s not going to take over all forms of traditional campaigning, but it has changed the game. Lobbyists and social interest may still have the upper hand, but social media is giving back the power to like-minded citizens, and that will be something to watch. Stay tuned!

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