Ever since Obama, using the Internet, or more specifically, social media for politics has become the new thing. He used social media in his political campaigns, including podcasting, Twitter, MySpace, Facebook and YouTube. The Internet helped slingshot his presidential campaign to success and he had more “friends” on Facebook and MySpace and more “followers” on Twitter than his opponent.
Similarly now, Hillary Clinton is learning from Obama’s footsteps and heavily employing the use of Social Media in her political campaign. Her presidential campaign announcement, in the form of a video, racked up more conversation on Twitter and Facebook than the combined launch announcements of Republican senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky. However, a good portion of the talks on social media about her was not all celebratory. It is said that a lot of the talk on Facebook about her was about government ethics. They were talking about the controversy over her use of a personal email account during her government service.
That’s the good thing and the bad thing about the Internet and the use of social media for politics. Sure, it can go viral and get a lot of people talking about you, but the talk isn’t always good. And, the Internet has so many resources, people can dig up so many things about your past and use that against you in the present. It also allows people to share their ideas online, which may not be based on facts but they make it seem so real and convincing. They can paint the worst picture of a politician, all out of thin air, and people can still believe them.
On the Internet, there’s no telling fact from fiction.
Here are some ways in which the Internet is good for politics
1. Fundraising: in 2008, President Obama managed to raise over half a billion dollars online, 2/3 was from someone clicking the “donate” button in a campaign email. 2. Recruiting: When supporters interact with your campaign at a rally, connecting with them afterwards via email and social media can help you start them on the path to giving money and time. Social media also let your supporters do the work for you, once they have the promotion messaging and imagery, they’ll spread the word about your campaign via Facebook, Twitter and every other online channel they frequent.
3. Grassroots Organising: digital tools are catching on in the world of grassroots organisers in a big way. iPads and other tablets are used in campaigns to ease the process of recruiting people and taking donations in person. Mobile apps and mobile-optimised websites will provide addresses, maps, directions and videos.
4. Advertising and messaging: digital channels are central to spreading a campaign’s overall messaging. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google and so many blogs and news websites offer the opportunity to reach voters and opinion-readers. Careful targeting helps you use advertising and outreach to hit the voters with messages designed to appeal to them. You can also connect directly with reporters, bloggers and online activists one-on-one behind the scenes.
5. Testing: the Internet helps you find out whether or not your messages work. Online advertising lends itself to the testing of positions, slogans and taglines. Sending different variants of an email messaging and measuring the responses lets you test the result before going all out on one particular subject line or appeal.
These are just a few of the ways the Internet can benefit politicians in their campaigns.