Democracy is defined as “a deeply communicative brand of politics– it demands communication and exchange of information and views, it demands dialogue and a public sphere in which citizens can engage in the practices which define them as citizens and the society as democratic” Darin, Barney, The Network Society, (Oxford: Polity, 2004)
As most nation’s political systems are based on democracy, which is rooted in communication, social media can have a massive effect on politics. We now have a medium which puts us almost on a level playing field with our politicians. We can post our political views online and our say on government matters. Many will argue this doesn’t make a difference to how our country is run. But as politicians themselves get in on the social media act we find ourselves able to talk directly to them more frequently. In the 2010 general election, a ‘digital debate’ was held with the help of Youtube and Facebook. The general public were allowed to send in their questions and vote on which ones they wanted to be answered. Making sure every question we wanted to be answered, was answered.
Many election candidates, in the UK as well as US, have a social media strategy for their campaign. However, how do you turn Social Media support into votes?
Mashable gave these 3 tips on turning those likes and follows into votes:
- Share Ideals, Goals, Accomplishments and Behind-the-Scenes Footage
- Engage Followers
- Turn Digital Followers into Real-World Volunteers
Through sharing their goals and accomplishments candidates can connect with their existing supporters as well as persuade unconvinced voters. This is because seeing behind-the-scenes makes you feel like your seeing the real person and gives you a sense of knowing what they’re truly like. This is a cornerstone in social media, as everyone who uses it to good effect know the importance of transparency in providing a believable arguement.
Engaging followers is another social media best practice tip when it comes to communicating effectively. By responding and talking to their supporters, as well as critics, candidates add a human touch to their campaign that can’t be ignored.
Then, finally, turning online followers into real life volunteers. The key to this is mobilizing through location. So this is done through making groups for the different counties or states for your supporters and creating mini-communities. This allows them to get to know and build relationships with each other. After that they are much more likely to want to meet face-face and do things of a mutual interest, ie supporting their political group.
These steps are key to turning digital support into votes and is a method every political campaign strategist should consider. Social Media carries such huge importance it is understandable that the public want to be able to do what matters most to them online. So politician need to learn how to utilize social media to make their campaign that much better than their comptitors.