Social media has changed Internet politics forever. It has given politicians a powerful marketing tool with low costs all while being an important and integral part of American life. For week 10 readings, different authors measure the effectiveness of this new type of PR. Although, an underlying question is one of which all generations can easily obtain, or if its targeted for the youth. In addition, whether or not there are concerns within its impact on political equality. I believe that social media aids politicians in gaining a collective reputation yet it is important for them to realize that they cannot depend solely on the Internet to win a campaign.
The analysis by Hindman, Hernson, and Stokes-Brown shows that voter demographics, candidate characteristics, and strategic and structural variables influence candidates’ propensities to sponsor a Web site, communicate with supporters, reach out to undecided voters, recruit volunteers, and raise money online. (39). Early scholarship focused on the disparities in the ease of access to social media. It has been noted that there are disadvantaged groups that lag behind in their Internet use (Hindman, Hernson, Stokes-Brown, 31). Now, scholarly sources focus more on the “second-level” digital divide—the gap between skilled and unskilled users, and the “third level” digital divide—the gap between the politically engaged and the politically indifferent. This shows that the use of social media is not generational anymore, but a battle between those who know how to use it, and those who do not. This is a key factor because now, politicians know that their information is getting out to all ages but there is still a problem between advantaged and disadvantaged consumers of media. Hindman, Hernson, and Stokes-Brown found that there is evidence of a digital-divide among politicians—candidates with longer careers in electoral politics were consistently less likely to campaign online than those with shorter careers (39). Thus, it is less important for legislative candidates to use the Internet because of these factors.
Furthermore, Nielson reinforces these arguments. This author believes that there is little information to find out what gets citizens involved in Internet politics. Nielson states that it is important to recognize how dependent and well-funded political organizations are on the wider built of communications environment in today’s relatively open Internet. Only the most extraordinary political campaign can build its own on the Internet (26). In addition, Scola highlights that Blue State Digital has become popular and successful because of how it tapped into other spheres of PR—non-partisan advocacy works, culture, and how these collectively play into the political arena. These articles show that Internet politics is not as easy or successful as people may think. Although, it is important to note that the combination of the traditional PR and dabbling into different forms of social media can lead to the utmost of success.
Do you think social media has hindered political campaigns? Should politicians stick to traditional ways of marketing?