Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Social Media and Politics: Food For Thought

Social media is performing some sort of voodoo on me. I always feel refreshed and rejuvenated by the discussions in my New Media and PR class, but yesterday's conversation surprised me. While I'm usually much less than turned on by debates about politics (I know - shame on me), yesterday I found myself surprisingly engaged when we threw social media into the political mix.

Food for thought ...

Is social media compromising or increasing the accuracy of information available about candidates' characters and platforms?

In our most recent assignment, we were required to pose and discuss a particular question relating to social media, PR and politics. My research on techPresident led me to focus on whether candidates' presence in social media networks is a help or a hindrance to their campaigns. Specifically, I focused on Barack Obama (who boasts a list of 16 social network memberships on his Web site) and his obviously heavy presence.

Do videos like "Yes We Can" (largely inspiring) and "I Got a Crush ... on Obama" (mainly entertaining) help drive a candidate's campaign, or are such videos compromising the substance and seriousness of his/her character?
Surely, the answer depends on the candidate and his/her particular following.

While it's no doubt Obama's new media tactics are paying off in an attempt to snatch the support of the young electorate (he claimed 59% of voters under 30 on Super Tuesday), at which point is the social media push considered overkill? How much is too much, and what will happen when it fails to reach additional, important demographics?

What's your take? For me, the jury is still out.

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