Social Media Election Campaigns: Politicians Benefit?

One of the topics we often bring you news on, is that of “social media” and the way in which it is being used in today’s society. By way of networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and others such as LinkedIn and Foursquare, individuals as well as organisations are reaping from its benefits.

In order to promote oneself or even a brand, people are taking on the challenge of using such sites for advertising and marketing purposes. Just yesterday we spoke about how the Discovery Channel is promoting its shows and has seen a massive increase in viewer traffic, others in the past we’ve spoken about have included brands such as Nestle, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, clothing from retailers New Look and so on.

Today its the turn of politicians in Ontario who have started to promote their elections online. Despite their engagement with social media, many still believe that election campaigns need to be recognised through good old-fashioned door knocking and signs laid out on grass verges.

An Assistant Professor of Political Science and Speaker at the University of Guelph “Tamara Small” stated that existing methods of canvassing are still in affect despite an influx of social networking sites and their use. Small said, “Should you have a volunteer go out door to door, or should you have them monitor social media all day. I might say: Send that volunteer out door to door.”

It seems that what potential candidates are hoping to do is to change the online voting already seen, into actual real time votes. Sites currently used to promote campaigns and their respective candidates include Twitter, Facebook, YouTube with some using photo sharing service Flickr.

Whilst these sites have and or being experimented with, others have chosen to use their own social networking methods. According to theglobeandmail.com, a Conservative Facebook app had been sent up allowing users to gain points which could result in winning a prize. In return, users can choose to support the campaign by allowing the group to send updates, volunteering services and so on. Others such as the Liberals have chosen to set up a network called fRed allowing supporters to help out in any way they can.

Although individuals realise that we live in a digital age and social networking sites can all but help a candidates campaign, it still doesn’t replace methods already used in the past such as door knocking, in this way representatives are actually meeting people on a face to face basis instead of online.

What are your thoughts on social media being used in this way? Would you prefer to have your say online or are your feelings expressed more in front of somebody?