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Bridge Bytes: 5 Ways Social Media Has Changed Politics

20 Nov 10:00 by Ben Taylor

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Social media is becoming more popular and more powerful with each day that passes and the use of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and now even Snapchat have dramatically changed the way political campaigns are run and how we interact with politicians and governments the world over.

Direct contact with voters 

The use of social media platforms has allowed politicians to engage in a direct dialogue with its voters without having to use some of the more traditional (and costly) marketing tools such as paid advertising.

Targeted messaging 

In a digital world, political campaigns can now access an abundance of analytics about their followers that allows them to target their demographics more effectively with relevant messaging. It also allows political parties to evaluate the success of their campaigns.

Engaging younger voters 

As we saw as a result of Brexit, only about 64% of 18-24 year-olds turned out to vote. Now, with political parties using Facebook and Twitter to aid with their campaigns, will we see a shift in younger voters becoming more engaged?

Controversy 

As we saw above, the use of social media platforms in political campaigns has allowed voters to have more direct contact with those in charge. However, allowing politicians to send out unfiltered posts on social media platforms could result in what some would call a ‘PR nightmare’.

Viral campaigns 

Trolling in politics is nothing new; remember the fake NHS posters that saw an airbrushed Prime Minister pictured alongside some unsavory promises? Well, this kind of publicity all helps politics to go viral on social media, which (for better or worse) not only engages younger audiences but also encourages the public to become more actively involved in what’s going on in the political world.

Social media has certainly had a huge affect on politics. One positive we have seen is that it has made those in charge more accessible, and in turn more accountable to voters. And in a post-Cambridge Analytica world where tensions are running high within the public about how we might be being manipulated; could the use of social media actually be a good thing?

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