Social media is an ever growing segment of Internet usage, but that’s not surprising. Humans, as social beings, will take whatever media is available and utilize it as a social platform. Politicians throughout the centuries have endeavored to maximize the need for social interaction in order to get elected and then maintain their elected position. So politicians and ideologues alike are using the Internet to unprecedented levels to gain followers and spread their message.
Decades ago, politicians were notorious for “kissing babies”. It’s seen as a joke now, but in the days before social media, this was a common tactic for politicians who were running for election. It was one way to connect with the common man, to show interest in the common man’s interests – his family. Politicians would go door to door, shaking hands, talking with families or small groups on neighborhood corners. Of course, a newspaper photographer would always be on hand to take a a pic for the next morning’s newspaper (their version of social media).
Today, the same politician can reach thousands, hundreds of thousands, and millions through social media campaigns. The social concept has evolved from face-to-face and physical contact to a digital presence and 24-7 access. Politicians can have a fan base of followers of millions in a relatively short time with a well thought-out strategy. A politician can reach all of his/her followers at once with a Tweet, or a Facebook post, and the followers can get access to their favorite politician any time they want simply by clicking onto their profile. Every tweet and post is presented in chronological order, so followers can stay connected to their preferred politician any time, day or night.
The concept of a politician having a Twitter account, Facebook account or Snapchat account also brings them down to our level, by association. I have an account, they have an account, hence they are just like me. Furthermore, I’m their ‘friend’ on Facebook. So in a sense, social media has truly brought the politician closer to the voter than ever, on a much grander scale and without all the baby spit-up to clean.