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How Does Social Media Affect Political Campaigns?


Just four short years ago, Barack Obama’s marketing team changed the landscape for political campaigns by rallying the public through social media. During the 2008 election campaign, Obama raised over half a billion dollars online, with 6 million of the 6.5 million donations made equaling just $100 or less. Talk about the power of the people.
Now, in the 2012 presidential election, social media is a crucial element to any political campaign, where an online marketing strategy has the potential to make or break a candidate. One major reason why social media is so important is not even the candidates’ messages, but what is called “amplification,” or what people are saying about them online. The more engagement a campaign receives from its posts, the more amplification the messages receive.
Another important factor is the media. Duh, but not just the political ads, debates and commentaries; the media is closely monitoring social media platforms to see what the public is saying and using the “buzz” to focus on certain topics or events. This could be really good for a candidate who is doing well, and really bad when he or she makes a public gaffe. In addition, shortcuts like buying Twitter users can be enticing, but is a very slippery slope. Faking social media followers can make a candidate’s campaign look bigger and healthier than it might be in reality, but the backlash from these below-board efforts can seriously undermine a politician’s credibility (wait, is that an oxymoron?) 

Do you follow any politicians online? How much of your news feeds have been taken over by political messages? Do you engage in politics online or steer clear? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.