Elections Enabling politicians to reach a huge number of people without incurring any costs, social media has become an indispensable tool for organizing election campaigns. Let us examine the slew of advantages the social media offers to politicians for running their election campaigns.
One of the key advantages of using social media during election campaigns is the ease with which politicians reach the younger generation of voters, who form the major chunk in the social media user base.
Politicians can very easily interact to woo the younger generation of voters to support them in the elections. Politicians nowadays actively build their social media presence by creating accounts on various platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, and other such online social media.
Using social media, politicians can interact with their prospective voters in a one-to-one model. It enables politicians to understand the sentiments of the voters and discuss important matters directly. What is more, political campaigners can tailor their messages following the specific sections of their audience with the help of social media.
Campaigning politicians can leverage the facility of posting different banners, images, and videos to people taking into account the age, geography and other factors related to the persons as mentioned in their respective profiles.
In this way, politicians can use social media to present their different images to different people—enabling them to present themselves exactly in the form the individual persons are looking for.
It is also needless to mention that election campaigns through social media are free of costs. Politicians do not have to spend any money to run such campaigns, unlike the other modes, which call for huge cash outgo.
The first impact of widespread usage of social media in election campaigning was perhaps felt during the 2009 presidential elections in the US. Barack Obama, who eventually stormed into the White House, earned the nickname, ‘First Social Media President’, due to his active social media campaigning before the elections.
It was during the campaigning stage of the 2016 presidential elections; Donald Trump followed exactly what Barack Obama did. Trump used social media heavily to propagate them would be policies, post convincing posts to fend off negativity as well as hate, and sought views from his audience. And the eventual result was: Trump defeated Obama to occupy the Presidential chair in the White House.
A similar social media dominated phenomenon made its presence felt during the 2014 general elections in India. Star campaigner, Narendra Modi of the BJP, who had defeated his rival Manmohan Singh of the Congress, had actively leveraged the social media to project the image of developed Gujarat as the example of his competencies to develop India in the lines of Gujarat. Narendra Modi was then the Chief Minister of Gujarat, a pretty developed state on the western coast of India.
BJP campaigners, during the 2014 pre-election phase, had extensively used social media to build the brand—Modi—as the most eligible leader, who is oriented towards development and is accessible to the common man.
Using social media, the campaigners for the BJP also projected a negative image of the then ruling Congress party as an anti-people and a corporate biased party, worthy of throwing out of power.
At the same time, Narendra Modi spoke to the people of the country through social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and many other websites as well as apps. And his incessant social media campaigns finally paid off as he had comfortably defeated his rival to become the Prime Minister of India.
It was during the 2019 general election also the winning party, BJP, extensively communicated with the people of the country during the campaigning phase supporting its policies already implemented, spreading the incompetence of its rival parties and projecting the Modi brand to lure the voters. Following the declaration of election results, Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister of India for the second successive term.
So, social media has become inseparable tool for election campaigning. It provides a reliable ground for politicians to air their views and connect with their audience. At the same time, social media also enables people to easily connect with politicians to elicit their views and agendas. In the days to come, the role of social media in deciding election results will only become stronger.