Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Citizens Go Around Media Bias with Social Media


Photo Credit - Flickr Common

In past elections, have you blindly voted for candidates knowing nothing about them or their campaign platform? 

Have you voted for an incumbent on name recognition only or simply because they had an “R” or “D” after their name without knowing their voting record?

Have you relied on the traditional media for your political news?  Do you believe everything you hear or read by the main stream media? 

Do you watch campaign ads believing they cannot say it if it is not true?  Have you in fact allowed the media and campaign ads to shape your political opinions and votes? 

Are you ready to change, to get informed, and to get more involved in the political process with the upcoming 2012 election?  Many voters are.  Many voters have even become citizen organizers. 

The citizen organizer has the ability to identify like-minded individuals; to create political consensus; to establish political allies; to provide information outside of the candidate’s controlled message; and to persuade others in supporting or not supporting a candidate.

This is true whether we are talking about politician campaigns or existing politicians – whether proposed bills or existing legislation.

Have you ever wanted to ask a politician a direct question, to express your opinion on proposed legislation, and track a politician’s voting record? 

Would you know how to go about this?  Would you consider the time and effort involved a deterrent?  
One thing is for sure.  As we move into the 2012 election season, voters are looking for a real seat at the table, and they are organizing to be heard in their representation.  

Voters know social media can easily facilitate this.  Voters are more invested, and they feel ownership in the process. 

The expectation of two-way participation and communication in politics in real-time is an emerging and lasting dynamics with voters.

The days of politicians thinking the dynamic remains I talk, you listen, and you don’t question my message are over.
The new dynamic is now you spoke, I listened; now you listen to me as I speak my experience and opinion - a two-way exchange and a more personal individual relationship is expected.

Should a politician ignore the two-way communication that social media fosters and voters and consumers expect, they will be viewed as out-of-touch and replaceable no matter how great the initial excitement, the strength of message, or the value of their platform. 

In addition, once elected, politicians will have to live up to their campaign rhetoric in their actual voting record to be re-elected.  YouTube is now a permanent record of what was said.

The importance of listening to the people they represent is a growing factor with voters.  Politically based social networks easily and directly facilitates this for voters and politicians.        

Voters under 30 got involved in the 2008 Presidential election campaign in record numbers.  Many became involved in politics for the first time in their lives – many through social media platforms. 

Candidate Barack Obama changed politics forever by setting the bar for all future political candidates to strategize and effectively use social media in political campaigns. He proved out the tremendous power of social media if used with a positive, individual interest, networking message strategy.

The greatest impact of Obama’s powerful use of social media is in how social media as a tool is changing the face of politics and policy in general - not just in campaigning.

Everyone learned by watching Obama including America’s citizens – the governed – the voters.

Not feeling their values and opinions were being listened to, let along being accurately represented in Congressional voting, American citizens got involved in political discourse in the last two years. 

Many typically non-political citizens got informed and involved for the first time in their lives.  This included citizens of all ages. 

Voters are watching politicians closely for action that backs up their words.  Voters are organizing and connecting as they gear up for the 2012 elections.

In the post-Obama campaign evolution, the political focus in social media use will not necessarily be on a politician’s campaign message, for no candidate will be able to tightly control their branding and messaging like Obama seemed to successfully do in 2008.

The social media dynamics have evolved and become much more organized by citizens.  The citizens are now in reality just as powerful as the politician’s press secretary and media relations today whether politics or the media like it or not.

Even if the media controls the brand and message by only presenting a candidate in a positive light, ignoring any emerging negative factors or a specific voting record, social media doesn’t allow this to go unchallenged as the only message people see or talk about anymore.

Voters are using key social media tactics to overcome the “power of politicians” who ignore their expressed desires in passing unwanted legislation and more taxation.   

Now social media affords in reality a leveling agent for both political campaigning and debate playing fields in the political realm.

In politics, these leveled playing fields allow for more accessibility, connection, and networking for the everyday, everyman participant; and these leveled fields are much more equal in several ways to a candidate’s political campaign team’s level.

The everyman has the ability to have a political discussion that is person-to-person and person-to-group with an unlimited audience. 

This is true even if the everyman has no actual access to traditional media or no actual participation in televised candidate debates.

Voters are now more directly engaging politicians by asking specific questions, expressing their opinion on proposed legislation, and tracking Congressional voting records. 

Voters are now more directly affecting their own futures having seen how public policy and legislation directly affects their economic stability and individual freedoms. 

They are going around the bias of the main stream media with the Internet and using social media.

Follow Brenda Krueger Huffman on Twitter.

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