Social media has become a strong voice and medium due to its authentic user-generated content.
The media has always been referred to as the fourth and invisible arm of government in most democratic states and nations. Free media, therefore, plays a very vital role in influencing politics in subcontinents and globally as well. It is, therefore, no doubt that the traditional media which consists of print and broadcast media aid in how free and fair elections are run as well as the pace of communicating with electorates by candidates.
The upsurge of the up-to-date media podiums with social media sites, blogs, and other platforms has increased hands-on citizen involvement in political spheres. The focus, however, is on social media which plays a vital role as a campaign platform as well as a watchdog before, during and after elections. The influence of social media is a great one and one such organization that has seen the roles social media plays has taken it upon itself to largely employ this new media approach of using social media to support credible and transparent elections.
The rise of a new dawn
Due to the fact that most electorates do not get the opportunity to interact with the candidates, many have turned to social media platforms such as Twitter to get more interactive with the candidates. This was evident in the case of the American election. The President Barrack Obama also employed the use of social media for his Presidential campaign in 2008.
The citizens are gradually opting for social media platforms to stay abreast with news and development about various elections. A 2014 Pew research centre survey shows that 16 percent of American voters made use of social media, twitter, and Facebook especially, to be abreast with the electoral processes during the 2014 midterm election. This was more than twice the number who made use of social media for the same purpose in 2010. The increase in the use of mobile phones has contributed to the ease of citizens communicating via social media and increase access to general views on elections.
Transparency and Election outcomes
Let’s have a little fun here. Read the full sentence before you start the experiment.so turn on your favourite song or tune, close your eyes and imagine that you are in a glass box and your favourite meal is right outside it, well presented and neatly served. Now open your eyes. The evident result is that should you be let out of the glass box most people will eat the food because they saw it and how well served and presented it was whilst in the glass box. That is the role of social media; it is the see-through box to access candidates from a distance and vote per how well or proper the candidate looked outside the box.
Transparency and accountability issues are easily circulated on social media. This played a major role in the Nigerian election. The recent election saw both major presidential candidates and their parties, maintaining social media presence. The independent Electoral Commission, National Electoral Commission engage the citizenry on social media to address inquiries and concerns linked to the process. Social media is also widely associated with playing a major role in transparency which led to the election of an opposition candidate in the election.
Trends and Electoral outcome
As the popular phrase goes ‘no news is bad news. A trend on social media refers to the inclination of a majority of social media subscribers, drifting and making a particular cause become popular. The recent general elections in America saw both candidates trending for all reasons. From the ‘evil nature’ of Secretary Clinton and President-Elect Trump’s mind-blowing comments and style of campaign. Most analysts, therefore, concluded that due to the mass approval for Hillary Clinton as she trended with the Hashtag #imwithher, Secretary Clinton was definitely a favourite amongst most Americans. And she indeed won the popular votes but was however definitely not largely endorsed by the college. Social media indeed plays a role in an election outcome but is not the only means to an end.
The general landscape
Social media is therefore widely a determinant and has contributed to the whole electoral process in recent times, as seen above.it serves as one of the greatest tools for analysts to speculate the favorite candidate and also for the citizenry to have a two-way interaction with various candidates and commissions, as well as to make enquiries and express concerns as well to the various candidates.
The increasing role of social media is therefore seen as gradually exploding into a bigger platform for campaigning and knowing the minds of voters and this is a great opportunity for most parties to structure their campaign styles and structures to suit trends. How will you be monitoring this coming election on social media and what information will you be looking out for? Let us know in the comment below. We wish you all peaceful elections God bless our homeland Ghana.