Candidates and their Profile Pages

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?

This entry was posted in Winter 2012. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Candidates and their Profile Pages

  1. mdhaas715 says:

    I agree that the utilization of social networking sites can help candidates reach a wider range of voters however, I think that the way a candidate uses these sites can affect how voters react to them. As we were talking about in class, the way candidates presented information on their personal profiles on Facebook affected how voters reacted to and related to them. For instance, Mitt Romney attempted to relate to real people problems however, when you looked at it and thought about it they were not real people problems after all. Due to this, he failed to relate to voters by going too far. This failed attempt hurt him because it called attention to him not being relatable which is something voters are looking for especially on a site like Facebook that is very common to most people. Even though social networking sites can be used in a way that can actually hurt a candidate, I still feel that traditional candidates who limit their use are at a disadvantage. Today, many people look to these sites to get information rather than looking to traditional outlets. By not focusing enough on social networking sites, candidates can miss a wide range of voters that might be crucial to their election.Since so much of people’s time is consumed by the Internet, it would be a mistake and put candidates at a disadvantage to not use a resource that is of very little cost yet can reach a wide audience quickly.

  2. robausti says:

    Yes, I agree that personal profiles on social networking sites can harm the image of a candidate-particularly if a candidate fails the Facebook test ‘Does this candidate seem real?’ In class yesterday, we analyzed the Facebook public profiles of the 2008 presidential candidates. Obama had the most fans on his Facebook page. This was accomplished through his masterful use of social media. For example, he used Facebook for substantive status updates, whereas another candidate simply stated ‘In Iowa’ under the status update-which did not look as engaged. Obama listed real interests for relatability, in contrast John Edwards put under his interest section ‘Stopping the genocide in Darfur’-which does not seem realistic. Interestingly, it was very obvious that Obama was targeting certain demographic groups of voters though his very calculated choices of ‘favorite’ music and movies. In all, Obama’s skillful utilization of social media compared to his rivals provided him an advantage in outreach.

  3. hansmith91 says:

    I agree that personal profiles on social networking sites can harm a candidate. As we were discussing in class, a profile needs to be a mixture of reliability and professionalism. It is important that potential voters are able to relate to the candidate, yet it is also important that they maintain a sense of trust and respect for them (rather than view them as a friend or an equal). As the use of social media has increasingly become the norm, profiles have begun to conform more and more to this ideal balance. For this reason, I think those who limit their use of social media sites are definitely at a disadvantage. The vote of the younger generation is perhaps the most important to watch out for as they grow to be the leaders of the next generation. Neglecting to use social media is essentially neglecting to appeal to an entire generation, many of whom rely on new forms of media to gain much of their political insight.

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