Social Media in the Political Arena

Politics as a term is generally applied to the art and science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the corporate, academic, and religious segments of society. On the other hand, Social Media includes the various technology tools that enable people to communicate easily via the internet to share information and resources. In other words, Politics directly engages to the government while Social Media is for technology or online communication.These 2 are somehow related and interconnected but we should know what is the real role of social media in the political arena…How social media created a big influence in politics especially in a political race.A portion of social media users say the sites are important for some of their political activities and the way they decide how to engage with campaigns and issues. Political campaigns used to rely on speeches, rallies, and newspapers to reach and motivate voters. Then radio and TV made it possible to reach everyone quickly and simultaneously. Today, campaigns can spread their messages instantly – and, interactively – through the Internet’s so-called ‘social media.’ The election race is more digital in this age by the help of internet and social media.

Social media are becoming increasingly popular among politicians and their organizations as a means to disseminate political messages, learn about the interests and needs of constituents and the broader public, raise funds, and build networks of support. These activities often take place on privately run social networking sites that allow political figures and institutions to communicate with the public in unmediated, high-profile fora. In the US, Republicans and Democrats have created accounts on popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Flickr. The content posted on these sites may relate to policy issues and the official work of politicians or to aspects of their personal lives.

Social media has played a huge role in the burgeoning election race. The election for 2012 created a buzz as it is expected by everyone that social media will reach new levels of sophistication. Political parties increasingly use digital techniques to help raise election cash as well as influence the outcome of the vote. In the 2008 US Election, we all witnessed how social media contributed and was a huge factor in bringing Obama to the White House.

Let’s take a look from the user’s point of view. In a nationally representative phone survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project:

  • 36% of social networking site (SNS) users say the sites are “very important” or “somewhat important” to them in keeping up with political news.
  • 26% of SNS users say the sites are “very important” or “somewhat important” to them in recruiting people to get involved in political issues that matter to them.
  • 25% of SNS users say the sites are “very important” or “somewhat important” to them for debating or discussing political issues with others.
  • 25% of SNS users say the sites are “very important” or “somewhat important” to them in finding other people who share their views about important political issues.

These are the findings from a survey conducted from January 20-February 19, 2012 among 2,253 adults ages 18 and older, including 901 cell phone interviews. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. The margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus 2.3 percentage points. And the margin of error of the sample dealing with social network site users (n=1,407) is plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.