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Politics and social media

As social media became an important part of our daily media consumption, it invariably became a budget element of political campaigns. The glaring example of importance of social media in politics is when congressmen debate on Youtube Town hall. Live streaming, podcasting, videocasting and all other usual tactics are a staple of a modern political propaganda. Even in the not so developed nations, adoption of social media for politics is one rare example of promotion strategy where people caught on really quickly. Elected officials and Candidates are fast to adopt and leverage social media to have better interaction with common people and encourage them to vote in future. It is a mark of a progressive leader to not only be present on social media platforms but also interact and respond to people’s questions directly. That, certainly opens up a whole new dimension to democracy which was never foreseen but always desired.

Why’s it important to follow political discussions on social media

Some of the explanations as to why social networking has become so vital for governance can be found in the direct nature of approach it brings to political discussions. On one hand politicians, who need to show themselves as honest and capable to perform their public duties can’t ignore the expectations of people which are set by some politicians who are really outgoing on social media. On the other hand, it is also goes without saying that the public scrutiny on social media is uninterrupted. There are no protocols for people addressing a person of administrative or legislative rank on social media. The public lash back or ridicule at the slightest slip is unabashed. Also, every thing that is been said remains online forever.  It doesn’t matter how many TV interviews you do to clarify your slip. The ‘image’ is not so easy to mend in online presence. Politicians feel compelled to try and do what others in their field are doing, and if one politician thinks he will curry citizen favour through constant Tweeting, then a bunch of others may start imitating almost immediately. Micro-blogging could be a good way to emit sound-bite philosophy. It’s short and sweet. It will say lots or it will say nothing. It does appeal to a hurry-up audience. Politicians can even try Haiku if they or their publicity team is really good at it!

Politicians will get the word intent on several potential votes while not administering the massive use of paid advertising that might be required for getting similar results from TV advertising and call ins. Micro-blogs like Twitter and Facebook give instant reaction, and lots of back-pedaling, as well as surprisingly false apologizing, all at one place. Politicians who use the social media extensively are perceived as lot more ‘in-with-the-times’ than those who refrain from it. During the 2008 elections in India, use of resources like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook was still a thing of a novelty. Now, a public representative not exploiting social media is a rarity. Some politicians have learnt by their mistakes that exhausting all methods of messaging on a social network is equivalent to squeezing dentifrice out of a tube, and the attempts to put the dentifrice back to the tube simply don’t work that well.

How Social Media has influenced political situations

The Charisma of Barack Obama 

Barack Obama had dozens of social network profiles, starting from MiGente.com to Facebook to BlackPlanet. His electoral campaigns have a heavy element of online fund raising and anyone subscribing to his website might have felt the barrage of emails claiming to be sent by Michelle Obama to his advisers and close ones. Who can forget the Women for Obama! All that happened on social media as it happened elsewhere. As many other congressmen and politicians around the world try to copy his social media tactics, they soon learn that they’re not quite Barack Obama. He was the once-in-a-generation-type candidate who had the kind of celebrity charisma that got the individuals excited to truly become his friend and network online with him although they knew it was a publicity team sending all those emails.

Despite the fact that Obama is an exception and there are no imitable tactics or rules to follow for achieving the same level of social media success, your political campaign still needs social media support. You can not have a low online presence that barely supports your offline efforts. It is well understood that how important a campaign website is as the hub of a campaign’s online activity, however social media is a crucial vehicle that will drive valuable traffic to the right agenda and extend the interaction with voters on a personal level.

Indian politics and social media

As of 2014, social media is enjoying a crucial new role in Indian democracy. This includes live-tweeting with Twitter , posting all events stuff on Facebook and live-streaming of videos on YouTube of the rally, and a separate enclosure for individuals who had registered online are only a few things to begin with. The 2014 Indian parliament election of India is presently underway and the election commission still haven’t been able to streamline and standardize social media usage beyond rudimentary policing. Quite interestingly, through out this year’s political circus, social media spending has been a point of concern and all the parties have tried to come clean on their online tactics to lure the public opinion. Memes mocking the competition have been liberally sprinkled across the internet. Sometimes, it does feel like overkill but when the fate of a nation hangs on the right humor and jokes, you can guess that things are still quite fine. In-fact, these are promising times for the democracy where people want a change in leadership, just to change the taste. Just like the constantly refreshing feeds of social networks, people want to see things moving. If a Government is formed with the knowledge that people will want something new, it is bound to act better. One thing is definite, social media does not tolerate complacence from politicians.

Social Media is useful but it also has a potential to cause disasters.  It is a tool in the right hands and a weapon in the wrong hands. India has seen situations such as violent riots and public protests due to fraudulent video uploaded over YouTube or a mere comment on Facebook, hurting the sentiments of a community. People have to be wise enough to understand what’s genuine and what’s just a troll. Social media is a higher communication. People not sensitized to it’s nature or elements can be easily hurt. It is more deceptive than TV and a lot less answerable. 

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An Intermittent Blog that discusses the nuances of Conversation, Social Content, Brand Thinking and Marketing Strategy

Koustave B

Chief Conversationalist at Organic Social. Brand Communications Consultant with a Tech background. Master Content Writer focused on Inbound Marketing. Loves Guitars and Bicycle rides. The Obi-Wan-Kenobi of Social Media.

1 comments
philnevil
philnevil

Sometimes, it does feel like overkill but when the fate of a nation hangs on the right humor and jokes, you can guess that things are still quite fine. In-fact, these are promising times for the democracy where people want a change in leadership, just to change the taste

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