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Social Media: A Politician’s Friend or Foe?

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Today’s politicians have a powerful tool in their pockets: social media. As a tool, this makes their supporters feel like they know their candidates. It makes politicians human, it gives them a life, a personality – it makes their opinions more enjoyable to digest.

Brands can also learn from political campaigns, because these are very much like marketing campaigns; the key difference is consumers “vote” with their pockets.

It’s the interaction that matters. The number of Facebook fans or Twitter followers a candidate has isn’t as important as how many people share their candidate’s message with their own network, and how much attention beyond social media those actions receive. Brands could learn from this insight. Without social interaction, brand awareness might be high, but brand loyalty would be low.

If a person sees a politician’s tweet that strikes a strong enough chord, that tweet will become a topic of conversation between him and his friends. That tweet will keep a political message in people’s memory. It will keep a candidate in their mind.

Current US President, Barack Obama won his first election partly because he was connected to young voters over social media. Young voters – predominant social media users – still make up a significant proportion of Obama’s strength. A recent poll showed that 90% of the public already knows everything they need to know about Obama, thanks to his perseverance in keeping his social media presence alive during his presidency.

Political candidates also use media as ammunition against opponents. The website www.romneytaxplan.com is one such example.

Created by the Democratic Party, it is a playful but tactical mockery of the Romney Tax Plan – or lack of it. A button for details of the plan dodges and jumps out the way of users’ cursors if they attempt to click it. This along with a fake slogan, “We Believe in Half of America”, serves to highlight how essential the media is as a strategic political tool.

It’s a powerful resource, media. It’s propaganda, it’s potent, it’s politics.

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