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The Blue & Gray Press | December 11, 2017

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Social media campaigning takes focus off the issues

Social media campaigning takes focus off the issues

By ASHLEY CHUNG

Since President Obama’s 2008 campaign team effectively proved that the use of social media during the campaign process yields positive results, a new precedence for garnering votes has been set. By utilizing different platforms of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, presidential candidates are hoping to positively impact voters’ views of their policies.

While that may be one goal of this media shift, it is not the only thing to be gained. Consequently, campaigns seem to be focusing on drumming up support for the candidate by accentuating statistics such as how relatable candidates are. However, these actions are also misdirecting voters’ interest.

By commenting, sharing and liking an online supporter’s post or tweet, candidates such as Hillary Clinton create a sense of personal connection that leaves a lasting impression. Clinton is not only known for her Twitter presence, which has helped her accumulate more than four million followers, but also for being an active user of more niched forms of social media like Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Periscope and even Spotify, even though some of these platforms do not seem to be relevant to politics at all. After all, how is Clinton’s playlist relevant and why would her “gear up for back to school” Pinterest board be on her public account?

It’s because moves like these are made to create a relatable persona and to help win the common man’s vote.

Contrary to Clinton’s online strategy, Donald Trump uses Twitter more traditionally, by making schedule announcements, thanking interviewers and throwing jabs at opponents, such as videos focusing on sleeping audience members while Jeb Bush talks policy. Some of his nastier comments have actually sparked Twitter wars between himself and others, such as his fight with Modern Family writer Danny Zuker.

By thinking about these facets of our presidential candidates, the realization that they are playing toward what voters want them to be is obvious. While pleasing the voter is not a grand new power play in politics, candidates like Clinton and Trump are doing it in such a way that it becomes difficult to discern whether or not it is even relevant.

As digital campaigning becomes the norm, America is slowly drifting towards allowing our presidential candidates to be more focused on entertaining us rather than relating to us as voters and being focused on political reform and improving America.