Since technology and social media have become integrated in our everyday lives, presidential candidates have embraced that change and started using social media for their campaigns. Social networking sites, such as MySpace, YouTube and Facebook, does not only help candidates target and reach a mass audience but it also helps candidates develop a more intimate relationship with their supporters.
Gueorguieva’s “Voter, MySpace and YouTube: The Impact of Alternative Communication Channels” discusses MySpace and YouTube’s role in the 2006 elections. During the 2006 elections, politicians started creating profiles on MySpace and posting videos on YouTube to help spread their campaign ads and messages to the vast online community. As Gueorguieva stated, YouTube and MySpace changed the way politicians and voters interact and changed the amount of control the campaigns have over the candidate’s image and message. Since these social networking sites are constantly being accessed by millions of users everyday, campaigns have to constantly maintain and censor the online content to make sure the profile fits the campaign’s desired image.
Besides MySpace and YouTube, Slotnick discusses the role Facebook played in the 2008 presidential elections. Similar to MySpace and YouTube, the candidate’s campaign team had to “map out a strategy” that best presented the candidate’s image and message. As Slotnick describes, the Facebook pages become “a product of commercial and political interests” and is manipulated to cultivate a specific image. For example, Hilary Clinton can foster a sincere and family-oriented image by describing herself as “one of America’s foremost advocates for children and families…” Also, president Barack Obama is able to create a softer and easygoing personality by posting a picture of him fist bumping his wife, Michelle Obama. The candidates can utilize these different social networking sites to not only reach a wider range of voters but to create personal profiles of themselves that voters can relate to and identify with. However, can personal profiles on social networking sites hurt candidates rather than help them? Also, are traditional candidates, who limit their use of social networking sites, at a disadvantage compared to candidates who do use social media?