- Strategies and Tactics
The utilization of social media in political campaigning appears to be one of the most innovative forms of gaining ground in electoral battles. While the majority of political campaigners tend either to under-appreciate the growing power of social media or, on the contrary, be excessively enthusiastic about them, the following course of action would be most beneficial for the politicians who aim to harness this new set of tools.
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First, political campaigners should remember that social media are not a full-fledged substitute for a face-to-face communication with the prospective voters but a useful supplement thereto. Social media such as Facebook or Twitter enable greater and more dynamic communication with other persons supporting the politician’s agenda but they do not eliminate a need for the direct message transmissions.
With this in mind, social media networks can be used as the channels directing the interested persons to the politician’s meetings and other off-line events. The Facebook, Twitter or YouTube accounts of the respective political campaign should not be a separate online world in themselves; on the contrary, their message is to be closely integrated with images and symbolism manifesting in the ‘real-world’ campaign.
In particular, the social media’s environment is rather suitable to preparing for grassroots electoral campaigns, and their messaging capacities can be used with a high degree of efficiency to inform the friends/subscribers of upcoming political events. The fundraising campaigns can likewise be greatly facilitated with the ample usage of social media announcements targeted at respective audiences; the use of right messages and communication style may be rather helpful for the candidates that wish to promote their cause and secure necessary donations.
Finally, a constant engagement with one’s subscribers/social media users is an all-important component for the successful utilization of this medium. Regular updates of information on social media accounts would create an impression of a candidate paying attention to the reactions of his/her followers or supporters. On the other hand, the apparent neglect of registered social media accounts may be construed as an expression of the contempt for the respective online communities.
- Benefits and Risks of Social Media Usage in Electoral Campaigns
The principal benefits of social media campaigning are connected with its inherent flexibility. Seemingly unlimited opportunities offered by various types of social media, ranging from video presentation promotion to direct communication through personal messaging, allow for expanded coverage of diverse categories of the audience. Social media may help cultivate a more personal and informal style of political communication, bridging the gap between a candidate and his/her voters and presenting a more humane dimension of politics.
On the other hand, the excessive use of social media might inhibit the electoral campaign’s progress. Such outcome may be conditioned by the preoccupation with social media promotion, which comes at the expense of the off-line fundraising and grassroots campaigning efforts. On the other hand, an indistinct and poorly positioned social media performance would have an adverse impact on the politician’s public relations image. His/her opponents would have an additional chance for countering the campaign’s spread by presenting a more clear-cut and focused counter-propaganda message. Furthermore, the lack of systemic narrative would confuse social media community, leading to mixed reactions to the cause or politician involved.
Therefore, social media campaigning is fraught with risks and potential threats. However, it would also promise rewards to those who may manage to master it.
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