Sunday, 24 November 2013

Week 10: Politics

Posted by Beryl at 21:09
The tenth post!!

Lookie here:

Make a choice: Who do you think is cooler?
I'm hedging a guess - Obama perhaps?
Second question: Why do you think he is?
Maybe it's because he connects better with the people? More specifically, maybe it's because he uses social media, which everyone (such as young adults like me) can relate with.

Let's go back to the roots of social media.
It was the creation of Web 2.0 (where interaction and collaboration between users are possible, and users could generate their own content online) that allowed for the rise of social media. The use of social media became more prevalent with the advancement of technology that facilitated the ease and frequency of use, as well as the importance of social networking, that led to people creating social media accounts.

Politicians' futures are, in a way, in the hands of the voters, at least in a democratic country. Therefore, they have to keep up with the times in order to gain the support of the people. Using social media is just that. It is a powerful platform for political campaigns. How so? It provides great exposure through its wide reach (practically everyone has a social media account, and people can share the information through their networks). It keeps people updated with latest news, has ability to persuade voters, helps target certain demographics, makes politicians seem more relatable, and helps politicians ensure the voices of the people can be heard.

We will take a look at the political arena in America and Singapore and how politicians there effectively utilise technology and social media in order to gain supporter by staying relevant in this day and age.
(I will be using many infographics to provide the stats and give my take on their use of technology and social media)

The use of social media was not as common in the past political scene as compared to now, obviously because there wasn't the technology to do so. Thus, past political campaigns relied on traditional media such as television, newspapers and radio to reach out to potential voters.

Social media brought a new dimension to political campaigns. Obama's presidential campaign revolutionised the political scene, changing the game to his favour by giving him an edge over his competitors in various ways.

Obama's proficiency (or at least his PR team) in technology and social media, enabled the world to connect with him:


There are 2 noteworthy political campaigns of Obama's to explore, namely the 2008 and 2012 campaign.

2008 campaign

Here is how Obama utlised the internet and social media for his campaign:

Besides garnering supporters, Obama also utilised social media to raise funds for his campaign, which proved more effective than collecting funds from private donors:
Greater reach online = More $$$
Enlarge me for an informative lesson!
As a result, Obama also received more attention than his competitor:
There was more talk about Obama than his competitor online (great publicity!)
The fact that Obama was computer-literate and McCain was not (he himself admitted that he doesn't use email or the internet!) made a significant difference in their outcomes.

2012 campaign
Now dubbed the "social media" campaign because of the previous 2008 campaign, the playing field (of social media) was left out for both Obama and Romney to utilse in an attempt to woo their voters.

Obama, while facing tough competition and an increasingly unhappy population, continued utilising the social media route (evidently successful in his previous election). As seen below, he spent a large amount of funds on his digital campaign:

This chart analyses how social media was utilised during the 2012 elections:
Some interesting things you didn't know about the election.
The chart below breaks down the popularity of the two parties on social media:

Obama is really popular!
With more experience, it is therefore not unexpected for Obama to be leading Romney in the social media scene during the 2012 elections:

I personally think it was a genius move for Obama to utilise social media for his campaign in 2008, because it was unprecedented for other politicians to do so at that time. I feel that it was a combination of luck and strategy. It was lucky that social media sites were beginning to launch and it was smart for his campaign to make use of the hidden potential of these sites. With a social media generation, it is more important than ever to tap into this source of potential voters. Props to Obama and his PR team for a mission well-accomplished!

Barack Obama is well-remembered for his unprecedented and effective use of social media. Mitt Romney, however, is more remembered for his why-the-heck-did-I-say-that?! moments.

To end off with the America case-study:
Obama for the win!
Politicians in Singapore are also getting tech-savvy.
As mentioned earlier, they cannot afford not to, because they would then lose their relevancy in this age of social media.

A prime example of a politician using social media would be Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Official Facebook account!
On May 4 2011 (a Wednesday night), PM Lee engaged in an hour long web chat on Facebook, fielding over 5000 questions and comments about topics such as cost of living, housing, foreign talent and public transport.
"Please don't flame me, I'm a newbie :-)"
So many questions, so little time.
People were finally able to interact with PM Lee directly, instead of going through red-tape and bureaucracy. As many people had Facebook accounts and it was easy to use, it was no wonder many people attempted to make contact with the PM.

While doing research, I was surprised that Lee Hsien Loong has an Instagram account too!
Follow me!
Thanks to social media, we can now see a more relatable side of Lee Hsien Loong:
Say cheeese!

It's not only me who thinks that way, look at the number of likes! And that comment (one out of the many other positive comments)!

Using social media was an attempt by PM Lee and the PAP to get ahead of their competitors. The Facebook web chat he conducted happened in the midst of the General Elections, and I personally think it was a good strategy to gain some support for the PAP before the crucial voting day.
Lee Hsien Loong is not the only hip politician in town. Even other politicians and constituencies have their own social media accounts for us to like, follow and everything else.

GRCs have their own Facebook page for people to 'like' and check out the happenings in the area, such as the constituency I belong to (Holland-Bukit Timah):
Like us!

Furthermore, Facebook can be used by politicians to announce important news:

It is also common for MPs from GRCs to respond to posts on Facebook.
Gusti Agusetiawarman, an Indonesian PR, thanked Tampinese GRC MP Irene Ng for helping him to get his Singapore PR status, and he got a friendly reply back.
Social media is such a powerful tool, not just for us, but for the politicians too. Sometimes, I feel that they are more relevant than me, because I barely have any social media (haha). So props to them for treading into uncharted territory, and with no doubt they will keep adapting to changes in their environment in order to continue reaching out to their people.

Signing off!


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