Social Media: an Evolving Campaign tool

Aaron Sanders
Staff Writer

We all love them: social media platforms which allow us to express ourselves. However, in 2012 social networks have been employed for political campaign purposes.
We live for those to like our status or a retweet on Twitter – political humor central – where many people around the world communicate online about the presidential candidates gaffes and mistakes.
For example, Mitt Romney’s mention of Big Bird caused a storm on Twitter as people called the Republican candidate evil for attacking the television show character.
Even though these kinds of things are silly in nature, they are what galvanize the uninformed and uninterested. Memes posted on Twitter have allowed the average person to become more politically aware, even if it is done through captions.
President Obama and Mitt Romney were mentioned more on Twitter than any other celebrity or icon during the month of October. This is an indicator that social media can be implemented to increase political engagement. I happen to follow the New York Times and the Associated Press for news via Twitter; these news corporations understand how social networks have taken the nation by storm and they react accordingly.
Various political outlets will give frequent updates on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr to sustain a large following of viewers. I think this tactic has allowed me and many others to stay informed while not having to go through the painstaking process of reading a dense news report on policy.
Even the presidential candidates have used social networks to attack each other vehemently. Politicians do this to catch your attention, and to a large degree, it has worked.
In previous decades we had a generation of children indifferent to social or political issues, but today, things are different. President Obama uses an intricate system in which he sends out donor invites via Twitter. Campaign managers do statistical research to figure what demographics would likely listen to their message.
I found myself on Twitter, waiting for a sound byte or a controversial statement to discuss on Twitter with my fellow friends. Facebook pictures with wisecracks about each candidates platform facilitates discussion among many online.
There are defects in relying on social media for credible news; sometimes people post inaccurate stories or make fallacious claims that have no
foundation. I believe that we are so used to getting news quickly we do not take the time to fact check information that is sent to us on Twitter.
Too often this year, stories have been retracted because misleading information was given to the masses. This is the curse of social media and even though we reap the rewards, we should acknowledge it.
In order to remedy this, I recommend that we research the company or people who disseminate information to us. We shouldn’t limit ourselves to certain perspectives, but we should look at opposing political views as we network online.
The reality is, social media and blogs have become central to winning the younger demographic as well as the educated. This is a relatively new phenomenon, but is powerful nonetheless. Personally, I like social networking for receiving political news and I accept the flaws. With campaigning drawing to a close, it will be interesting to see how President Obama & Governor Romney were able to utilize the social networks to win the horse race.