How Social Media Has Changed Politics

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11 Ways Twitter and Facebook Have Altered Campaigns

The use of social media in politics including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube has dramatically changed the way campaigns are run and how Nigerians interact with their elected officials.


The prevalence of social media in politics has made elected officials and candidates for public office more accountable and accessible to voters. And the ability to publish content and broadcast it to millions of people instantaneously allows campaigns to carefully manage their candidates’ images based on rich sets of analytics in real time and at almost no cost. Here are 10 ways Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have changed Nigeria politics.

1. Direct Contact With Voters Social media tools including Facebook, Twitter and Youtube allow politicians to speak directly to voters without spending a dime. Using those social media allows politicians to circumvent the traditional method of reaching voters through paid advertising or earned media.

2. Advertising Without Paying For Advertising : It has become fairly common for political campaigns to produce commercials and publish them for free on YouTube instead of, or in addition to, paying for time on television or the radio. Often times, journalists covering campaigns will write about those YouTube ads, essentially broadcasting their message to a wider audience at no cost to the politicians.

3. How Campaigns Go Viral  Twitter is a popular tool among political candidates. Twitter and Facebook have become instrumental in organizing campaigns. They allow like-minded voters and activists to easily share news and information such as campaign events with each other. That’s what the “Share” function on Facebook and “retweet” feature of Twitter are for.

4. Tailoring the Message to the Audience Political campaigns can tap into a wealth of information or analytics about the people who are following them on social media, and customize their messages based on selected demographics. In other words, a campaign may find one message appropriate for voters under 30 years old will not be as effective with over 60 years old.

5. Learn Something New Every Day Discover surprising insights and little-known facts about politics, literature, science, and the marvels of the natural world.

6. Controversy Direct access to voters also has its down sides. Handlers and public-relations professionals often manage a candidate’s image, and for good reason: Allowing a politician to send out unfiltered tweets or Facebook posts has landed many a candidate in hot water or in embarrassing situations.

7. Feedback Asking for feedback from voters or constituents can be a good thing. And it can be a very bad thing, depending on how politicians respond. Many campaigns hire staffers to monitor their social media channels for negative response and scrub anything unflattering. But such a bunker-like mentality can make a campaign appear defensive and closed off from the public. Well run modern day campaigns will engage the public regardless of whether their feedback is negative or positive.

8. Weighing Public Opinion The value of social media is in its immediacy. Politicians and campaign do absolutely nothing without first knowing how their policy statements or moves will play among the electorate, and Twitter and Facebook both allow them to instantaneously gauge how the public is responding to an issue or controversy. Politicians can then adjust their campaigns accordingly, in real time, without the use of high-priced consultants or expensive polling.

9. It’s Hip One reason social media is effective is that it engages younger voters. Typically, older Nigerians tend to make up the largest portion of voters who actually go to the polls. But Twitter and Facebook have energized younger voters, which has had a profound impact on elections. President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was the first politician to tap into the power of social media during his successful campaign in 2011.

10. The Power of Many Social media tools have allowed Nigerians to easily join together to petition the government and their elected officials, leveraging their numbers against the influence of powerful lobbyists and monied special interests. Make no mistake, lobbyists and special interest still have the upper hand, but the day will come when the power of social media allows like-minded citizens to join together in ways that will be just as powerful.

11. Good Rapport with electorate With the advent of social media, a very good rapport and relationship is being established among government officials and the citizenry in Nigeria.

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