Ever since it arrived in 2005, social media has gradually woven its way into the fabric of most people’s daily lives. Now used as both a professional and personal way of communication, almost all educational, commercial and political organisations rely on social media as a key way of communicating with the public.
One of the most interesting areas of development is the ongoing relationship between social media and politics. Despite being seen as something of an awkward union by a large number of people, there’s no doubt that it has provided those in power with a far easier way of talking to the general public. As the number of users on social media has increased year by year, politicians have identified sites like Facebook and Twitter as key places to talk to their constituents and reach a far wider target audience. This is both a good and bad thing:
Why It’s Good
As well as the huge numbers of users, social media’s increasing popularity and instantaneous appeal have made it ideal for politicians to communicate with younger people.
Younger people are traditionally seen as the most difficult political demographic to engage and, as they tend to more active on social media, this is something political parties have been keen to take advantage of and use in their battle for public support and votes.
Why It’s Not So Good
Although this is all well and good, that doesn’t mean all politicians have got on well with social media. There have been quite a few high profile gaffs over the years, with several MP’s have lost their jobs after social media mistakes, and, who can forget Labour Party leader Ed Miliband and his ‘Blackbusters’ tweet after the death of ‘Blockbusters’ quiz show host Bob Holness, ‘Racistquizshows’ was trending within a matter of minutes.
Social media is an open, fast and unforgiving way of communication, with a real lack of moderation and no real formal guidelines. There’s also no real delete button. Sure you can take a tweet down, but it will exist forever after retweets.
Twitter, Facebook and all other avenues of social media have the advantage of offering politicians and voters the chance to talk to each other directly, which also means it allows members of the public a direct way to abuse their government ministers and local MP’s. It is, as they say, swings and roundabouts.
There are now over one billion Facebook users, so there is no way political parties can afford to ignore social media. In fact, it is sure to be an area which political parties invest heavily in such is their scope of their reach. However all politicians and related staff members should be aware of the pitfalls of social media, and while they should exploit the chance to talk with voters directly, they should be careful from posting something they regret.