Politics and media are both fields that are constantly in a state of flux, growth, and change. A brief re-cap of the history of digital electoral campaigns provides a useful starting point for exploring the role that social media plays in political campaigns. Political use of the internet in electoral campaigns started in ninety’s, however, from the year 2000 onwards, the increasing prevalence of the internet was the catalyst for a new level of electoral tactics in social media. With millions of internet users around the world, various countries started to consider the use of social media much more prominently in their political campaign strategies.
In 2008, campaign for the United States presidency marked a significant shift in the importance of social media in electoral campaigns. When Barack Obama ran for president, social media sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter were at the center of a huge investment in his strategy. Robertson, Vatrapu, and Medina conducted an in-depth examination of campaigns of presidential candidates Obama, Clinton, and John’s Facebook walls and what individual users wrote. The study concluded that President Obama had significantly higher engagement than his counterparts. It is clear from this study that the level of followership significantly increased engagement, which in turn helped to secure the win.
Since then, monitoring boom of social media began on the back of evidence from political and communication strategies around the world that showed the contribution that social media could add to campaigns. Tools that are available to these politicians to carry out social media analysis play very important roles such as; they are predictive rather than reactionary, and they are far more accurate. These tools have the ability to help politicians by raising awareness of their campaigns and establishing a platform for dialogue. In addition to that, social media also may have the ability to predict the actual outcome of an election. A study by Tumasjan, Sandner & Welpe (2010) examined several key ideas such as Twitter as a reflection of political sentiment and whether Twitter could predict the results of the election, which demonstrates that the number of mentions the party received matched very closely with the results of the election polls.
As more and more people use social media to communicate their view and perception of elections, researchers have increasingly been collecting and analyzing data from social media platforms. When a political party engages its constituent using social media channels, they would be benefited by gauging whether the policy idea works immediately. They will know instantly the climate of those conversations, they can see how successful their message was delivered and how it got their constituents engaged in conversation. Once they have determined that, then they can craft next strategy according to what was popular and what was not.
Last but not least through monitoring social media one can access the data collected using third party cookies of the audience producing a demographic report. This report can give valuable information about audience’s gender, age and most vital their interest of helping politicians orient a successful campaign.