Social Media: a Game Changing Factor on Redefining Democracy
Over the past few years, we have seen a spectacular uptake in the strategies of global political parties, particularly in using social media campaign to defeat their opponents. Undoubtedly, US President Election of 2016 is an obvious example where social media contributed as a GAME CHANGING FACTOR in the recent history. Following the qualitative approach in this paper, I will review social media as an analytical framework in political context. Moreover, my aim is to focus on the strategies by which they make their digital campaign more attractive to the target audience. Finally, the paper will discuss how this social media can influence the future elections, and how this digital campaign engagement can be improved to reinvigorate the democracy more efficiently.
At present social media such as SNS, weblogs, tweeter, micro blogging are playing an increasingly important role in shaping political communication around the world. The potentials of social media appear to be most promising in the political context as they can be an enabler for more participation and democracy. It becomes obvious that, the social media can be successfully adapted to contact and discuss with voters. It is also helpful to disseminate important information to the voters, especially to the young people who are inspired to political topics using social media as communication platform. Micro blogging services like Twitter and social network sites like Facebook are believed to have the potential for increasing political participation.
Social Media as an Analytical Framework:
The framework presented in this paper consists of two major parts:
a) data tracking and
b) data analysis.
While data tracking and monitoring is concerned with different approaches for how and what kind of politically relevant user-generated data from different social media platforms can be tracked and monitored, the data analysis part deals with various analysis methods for different analysis purposes and approaches. Furthermore, the framework considers three major types of social media: (1) microblogging, (2) SNS, and (3) weblogs. Although there exist currently many platforms which can be categorized as micro blogging or SNS, they are, however, often characterized by signi?cantly different functionalities, target groups, or purposes. In this paper, we focus on Twitter and Facebook as the most prominent public platforms of their kind.
Fig. 1: Political communication and social media analytics
Tracking approaches There are different approaches of data tracking for a political institution which depend on the speci?c intentions of that institution:
(4) Random/exploratory, and
Self-involved approach: The ?rst approach is applicable when, for example, individual politicians or political parties want to know explicitly how people are talking about them in social media. In such case, the politicians or parties can have all tweets collected that contain their name either as simple keyword or hashtag. If they have an own Facebook presence in terms of a page or group, they should track all posts and corresponding comments published by users or fans/ members of their own page or group. Likewise, if they also have an own blog, all comments to their blog entries should be gathered for analysis. Furthermore, it might be useful to collect all Facebook and blog postings that contain their name from external prede?ned Facebook groups/pages and blogs, respectively.
Keyword/topic-based approach: Political actors are usually highly interested in the feedback or opinions of social media users to certain political topics. Here, the second tracking approach seems to be eligible where tweets as well as Facebook and blog postings that involve keywords related to topics of interest can be tracked. To attain a high level of data completeness, relevant keywords representing the topic of interest have to be carefully and systematically chosen in advance. The broader the topic to be analyzed, the more keywords should be taken into account.
Actor-based approach: In political communication, particularly in the blogsphere and recently on SNS and microblogging platform, there are usually a number of actors who can be considered as more in?uential or more popular than most other users. These actors are said to have the power to in?uence (online) opinionmaking processes. Therefore, politicians or political parties are also interested in monitoring such important users in terms of their generated content. For that, an actor-based tracking approach might be employed to track tweets, Wall postings, and blog entries as well as corresponding comments speci?cally contributed by those in?uential users who should also be identi?ed in advance.
Random/exploratory approach: Contrary to the ?rst three tracking approaches which are rather of targeted nature, the fourth approach supports exploratory inductive content mining. The idea behind this tracking approach is to randomly select one or several sets of data (tweets, Facebook or blog postings) for different time periods for analysis. Based on these random datasets, particularly content analysis might be conducted to identify major political topics and detect users’ opinions or sentiment associated with those topics.
URL-based approach: Given that social media platforms are widely used, among other purposes, to disseminate information, particularly by means of posting URL, political actors might also apply a URL-based approach to selectively track contents behind hyperlinks shared in tweets, Facebook and blog postings. This might provide additional meaningful insights, especially in case of tweets with a limited length of 140 characters.
Social Media as a GAME CHANGER in 2016’s US Election:
Social media are playing an increasingly large role in the way campaigns communicate with voters. In January 2016, 44% of U.S. adults reported having learned about the 2016 presidential election in the past week from social media, outpacing both local and national print newspapers. Candidates differ in their use of social media to connect with the public
Since the start of the 21st century, the internet has evolved from a novelty accessed by half of the American population to a resource now used by nearly 90% and a primary way for the public to keep up with the news, events and issues of the day. This is true as well when it comes to our nation’s presidential elections: Roughly two-thirds of Americans (65%) report learning about the election on the web.
If we particularly look at the 2016’s US Presidential Election, there Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders posted on Facebook and Twitter at roughly similar rates, averaging five to seven posts per day on their Facebook pages and 11-12 posts per day on their Twitter accounts. While the candidates’ level of posting was about the same, public response was far from equal.