Politics and Social Media
Politics and Social Media
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Importance Of Social Media In Election Campaign

Research by The Best Social Media platform among the 30,000 Instagram followers shows that 15 percent of this group follows a politician, and only 13 percent a political party on social media. If you want more to become famous you can ‘buy Instagram likes cheap‘ to attract more followers on your Instagram.

Never before have political parties made so much use of social media during election campaigns

We not only look at Belgium, but also at the US, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. Facebook and Twitter are the ideal media for politicians to communicate directly (without the intervention of the press) with the voter. Personal opinions and realizations, but also party propaganda can be sent unfiltered. But perhaps more importantly: they can enter into a conversation with their target group. We are convinced that social media will not only bring politicians closer to citizens but will also help them to interact. Social media allows politicians to share their opinion, expertise, or vision on themes that are alive in their city or municipality. In this way, they quickly become more relevant to their voting audience. By using social media (not only during the campaigns) the election candidates become more authentic and they can also reach that younger, more difficult target group. The more well-known, the lesser, the more (preference) votes. That’s what politicians can achieve with social media. Do voters also know the politician online? Do they (regularly) see him or her pass by in their timeline? What image do they have of the politician?

Offers perspectives for a better (more participatory) policy, building credibility, and for a better campaign

On March 12, 2016, we came across an interesting tweet on Twitter that we would like to share with you: “A good politician campaigns for 6 years, you have to earn your voters, every day. Do what you say, say what you do.” Social media are just the right tools for this, simple but essential! Research also shows that social media has a positive influence on the number of preference votes that candidates received. Candidates who use social media during the municipal election campaign receive 7 percent more votes than candidates who did not. In comparison, rising one place on the electoral list produces more votes (namely 53 percent more votes). The research shows that the use of social media has a positive effect. On the other hand, this effect should not be exaggerated. The voters who will be reached directly through social media are still limited. When politicians make full use of and deploy their social media channels, they are not only reachable online, they also become more relevant to their constituents. As a result, they see the politician’s commitment and vision in a systematic way, so that they know better what he stands for. Finally, social media provide more online visibility, which only enhances the credibility of a local politician. Politicians do not build credibility in one day, not even during a campaign period. It’s something they have to work on in the long term. It is therefore essential to start early and to deal with it consciously. This way they can reap the benefits during a campaign period.

In addition, journalists also play a huge role in furthering the influence of social media. Journalists follow that social media and many politicians as a ‘news source’. Research shows that journalists often cite social media messages, such as tweets, in their articles. In this way, tweets reach a much larger audience and a candidate receives a lot of publicity. Scientists, therefore, emphasize that social media through traditional media may have a much greater influence than social media on its own. In this way, we get a nice interaction between social and traditional media. Publicity and attention are usually always positive and are likely to lead to more votes. Because as we already wrote: the more famous, the more loved, the more preferential votes. Especially in local elections: people vote for people. There are fewer undecided voters at the time of voting.

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Can Social Media Affect Politics?

The Netherlands is representative democracy: citizens elect political representatives and they make decisions on their behalf. Citizens have final control because they can send their representatives away after some time. But citizens do not have a direct daily influence. Many find this hopelessly outdated.

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There is also an alternative: direct democracy. Citizens have a direct influence because they are asked to give their opinion in all kinds of decisions. Citizens then make their own decisions or do so together with politicians. This is an ideal that has often been put forward by a party like D66 in the past. Nowadays, the PVV is especially in favor of it. Many feel that this is more appropriate for this time.

DO CITIZENS MAKE THEIR VOICES HEARD?
Many citizens are present on all kinds of social media. These media have also become a medium for citizens to talk about politics. Yet the question is whether all citizens use social media equally for political matters. That is not true. On the internet, it is mainly the higher educated, men and young people who are politically active. When we listen to the opinions of citizens on the internet, we only listen to this part of the population. This is also known as ‘diploma democracy’: the higher educated get the chance to shout out the lower educated. The higher educated often have different opinions and interests than the less educated. They often also have different party preferences. It is therefore a problem if we start listening to ‘the citizen’ via social media.

IS THE CITIZEN’S VOICE HEARD?
Politicians in the Netherlands have become insecure. There are floating voters, declining party supporters, fewer volunteers, and many disaffected citizens. This creates a need to listen better to citizens, but listening is still not their main task. Most politicians have a part-time position. During that time they have to do many things: hold meetings, maintain party contacts, read documents, obtain information, and speak to the media.

WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES?
The question, however, is what happens when politicians start listening to citizens. Politicians mainly come across a lot of irrelevant information online. Many opinions of citizens are not substantiated, many arguments of citizens were already known, there may be new information to be found, but filtering it out takes a lot of time, and there is no guarantee whatsoever that new information will come out of the statements of citizens at all.

IS DIRECT DEMOCRACY BETTER?
In a direct democracy, the same citizens are active who are active today in our representative democracy. The majority are not active and only sometimes vote. Many citizens are already tired when elections are held too often. Still, active citizens want to make their voices heard more often and advocate more direct democracy. However, this is primarily an opportunity to permanently overpower others. The existing problem of diploma democracy is getting worse. So there are many similarities between a representative and direct democracy. A small group of citizens is an active and real dialogue between citizens and politicians is scarce because it is physically impossible and there is simply a lack of time. Politicians also have to meet together. In a direct democracy, however, there is more pressure on politicians to enter into dialogue, and the chance that citizens will have influence increases. The question remains whether all citizens will make equal use of it. Probably not, and then the question still arises who exactly gets along with all those active citizens.