Sunday, March 20, 2016

Politics and the rise of social media

In the 2008 presidential election, Barrack Obama used social media to reach potential U.S. voters and encourage them to vote. Unlike his Republican counterpart, John McCain, Obama and his team focused their marketing efforts on social media, rather than television, according to New York Times reporter Richard Parker. These marketing efforts came right when news social media were on the rise and Obama's team really foresaw the value in exploiting those communication methods, according to the article.

Parker's article cites Jennifer Aaker's academic research and states "The [Obama] campaign built 5 million supporters on social networks, had 2.5 million followers on Facebook, and 50 million viewers watched 14 million hours of video on YouTube, which was then pretty new."

The article also points out the importance of reaching the demographic that Obama was targeting — Hispanics, young women, African American and Asian Americans — through the new media. Parker writes that this move beyond the "traditional media" — television, newspapers, etc. — really helped Obama reach that demographic.

The article suggests that when Obama tried to be re-elected in 2012, he outperformed his opponent, Mitt Romney, by using social media much like he had when he was elected to his first term. Parker points out that in this election, Obama at least doubled Romney's following on all social media accounts.

In my opinion, the president's marketing efforts have been adopted by almost every candidate in the current presidential race, especially the leading democratic candidates. Both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton send out several messages a day on social media, and both do a great job of conveying their message. Meanwhile, Donald Trump has fully exploited his ability to speak his mind at all times on social media.

Another form of generating political buzz is through political bloggers. In an article by David Pettinicchio, the power of political blogging is revealed. The article cites the Occupy Movement and the power blogging and live-tweeting had in creating media coverage of the effort.

The article mentions one blogger Vivian Krause in particular. Krause spent a lot of time researching and writing about the United States' monetary involvement with Canada's environmental activism. Though environmental companies in Canada had accused Krause of exaggerating the truth in her blog, her blog served as a platform for discussion between oil companies and the environmental organizations, according to Pettinicchio's article.


  1. I agree with your points about Obama's social media use in his first and second campaign. It's very apparent that current political candidates are attempting to follow the same model!

  2. I remember there was a lot of coverage for the Occupy movement on TV. Then there was a lot of support shown for the protesters from people on Facebook. I think social media really made that political movement so much more powerful.