Social media was once labeled a fad, but now it’s one of the biggest communication tools that we use at work, in school, among friends, family and co-workers, and for a myriad of purposes.
During the last four years, however, social media has played a critical role in the US presidential elections. This year’s election will see an even more important role for YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and other popular social networking sites.
One obvious benefit of social media for candidates is its use to spread their message effectively, and daily. According to Sean Fitzpatrick, who works for the campaign of Romney and Ryan as their Michigan communications director,
“Social media is a critical piece of our campaign. Our campaign utilizes Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Tout, Flickr, EventBrite, Spotify, Storify, Tumblr, as well as our own social media site, called MyMitt.”
For the Obama and Biden campaign, on the other hand, Matt McGrath, press secretary for Michigan, said that,
“This time around we’re not only using existing social media channels to reach out to voters but we’re also integrating more closely with our field department to create online tools that can make our organizing more effective on the ground.”
On the other hand, Terri Towner, a political science professor in Oakland University, said that traditional media is still the best tool for spreading the campaign message. Towner said,
“It’s important to note that television is still king in campaigning. As a result, candidates rely heavily on televised stump speeches, television campaign ads, conventions and televised debates to reach voters.”
Towner adds that candidates are afraid of the fact that it’s very hard to control their image and message in social networking sites. That is one of the disadvantages of social media campaigning.