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  • Writer's pictureLauren Hooker

How Social Media Has Changed Politics

What’s the first thing you do in the morning? If we were to ask that question 10 years ago, we would probably hear answers like: make the bed, take a shower, or check the weather. But it’s 2019 and the answer to that question for nearly half of Americans is that they check their phone before getting out of bed.

It’s estimated that there are nearly 2.77 billion social media users worldwide. That’s up from less than 1 billion users in 2010. In fact, the average social media user will spend 2 hours of their day checking platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and others.

Social media is entwined in our daily lives. We post pictures of our children, family, and friends. We post about where we are, what we’re eating and what we’re doing. It has been used to help bring people together and has been known to be the demise of others.

As we have seen over the course of a decade, social media has been playing a larger part in our culture, particularly in the world of politics. Social media has become a barometer of how issues are perceived to the public.

But if you’re running for office today, it is necessary to have a presence on social media. It has changed the game of politics.

It’s Free

Twenty years ago, campaigning consisted of voter contact through door knocking, sending mail pieces, making phone calls and using paid media like commercials and radio ads. While we still use these methods today, it has become more prevalent to utilize social media to efficiently reach voters because it is free. Creating a social media profile doesn’t cost a dime and is a good way to let voters see what you are doing.

Target Specific Voters

With social media advertising, you can now effectively target who you want to see your message on a budget. You can target voters by location, age, sex, and behaviors. You can’t do this with any other form of paid media.

Accessibility and Accountability

Before the use of social media, the main form of contact between constituents and elected officials was by phone or mail. Now there is an easier way for constituents to contact who is representing them. By having a social media profile, voters and constituents can comment on posts and send messages to public servants. However, this makes it easier for people to complain publicly and adds a layer of accountability that we haven’t experienced in previous generations.

Instant sharing with videos

Now with the invention of Snapchat and Live streaming capabilities through Facebook and Instagram, civilians can capture anything on their cell phones and instantly share it with the world. Public servants now have to assume anyone can record their actions or words at any given moment.

Social Media Posts are Quotable

Because social media platforms are so popular, they have now become reliable sources of information for journalists. Now more than ever, we are seeing journalists quote tweets and facebook posts for their stories. What you say and post on social media has to be treated the same way as if you were in an interview. And better yet, these posts are archived and anyone can go back in time to see what you’ve said in the past. Basically, if you don’t want it reported on the news, don't post it!

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