It is only relatively recently that social media has come to exercise such a pervasive presence in the lives of the populace at large. It should therefore come as no surprise that social media is more relevant to the upcoming election than any other in history. Indeed, only a decade or so ago, presidential candidates who were able to take advantage of the internet in promoting their campaigns were considered innovators in the field, when Facebook and Twitter were still young and somewhat irrelevant. In the contemporary world, it is hard to imagine a more important source of influence on voters than social media. John McCain’s 2008 campaign will go down as the last campaign in history to not use social media, while Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign is widely considered the very first to use the medium.
Power to the people
According to a U.S. News article written in late 2008, the internet is the prime source for grass-roots politics. Virtually all Americans have access to the internet at this point, relegating power and influence to an extremely broad sphere. Since almost all Americans have access to Youtube and Facebook, it follows that anyone can influence and be influenced by social media campaigning.
Hilary Clinton’s campaign
Hilary Clinton has done wonders spreading awareness of her campaign on Facebook. Most revolutionary however, is her use of Periscope. On one of the newest mass-use social platforms, she live-streamed her first major campaign rally on Roosevelt Island in New York, hosted by Michelle Kwan
Ted Cruz’s Campaign
In the other corner, Republican Ted Cruz has also taken advantage of social media in his campaign, live-streaming the first speech of his new campaign on March 23rd. He exhibited his keen awareness of the importance of his social media-savvy contingent by announcing his decision to run for president at midnight, when most 18 to 30-year-olds are on social media.
The reality of virality
While social media campaigning was in its infancy when Howard Dean ran for president, most remember how his infamous scream went viral. In the contemporary internet world, campaigners and those close to them can have their shenanigans smeared across the internet. Sensationalism now exercises a paparazzi-esque presence as memes immortalize potential indiscretions of any politician who happens to be near someone with a smart-phone.
The medium is the message
Finally, the existence of the very medium by which politicians conduct much of their campaigning presents issues of its own. Users of social media want to know what politicians think of the possibility that a voter’s internet activity can be continuously monitored by the government. Voters will also want to know what politicians think about such controversial issues such as net neutrality, according to which internet service providers can block certain websites or sources on their own whim.
This article was written by Daniel Calderof Examiner.com for CBS Small Business Pulse.