Social Media Gets Political Jennifer Taylor November 11th, 2015 Social Media and the Evolution of Politics in the Digital SphereThe 2016 US Presidential Campaign is in full swing and the candidates are making social media an integral component of their campaign strategy. Marco Rubio regularly sends out Snapchat Stories, Ted Cruz live streams his appearances through Periscope, and Hillary Clinton joined Twitter with what is possibly one of the best Twitter bios of all time (“Wife, mom, grandma, women+kids advocate, FLOTUS, Senator, SecState, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado”). We also can’t ignore that as of November 9th, Obama is the first sitting President to join Facebook.by Jen Taylor As we watch Obama talk about the importance of National Parks on Facebook, Jeb Bush share video announcements via Instagram, and Trump make a fool of himself on Twitter, it’s clear that social media is quickly reshaping the campaign process (and the larger political landscape).Talking Directly to the PeopleSocial media channels like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and even Snapchat are bringing politicians and parties closer to potential voters and changing the way politicians interact with citizens. Social channels allow politicians to launch polls, ask for opinions, and keep their audience updated on future events.Though many candidates simply fill their streams with PR-friendly push messages, some politicians are beginning to use the platforms to engage in meaningful two-way conversations with potential voters. Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is a prolific Twitter-user and was praised for his use of social media during the 2010 municipal election. He leveraged Facebook and Twitter to engage directly with the voters in honest and genuine conversations, letting the populace know he was really listening to their questions and comments. Nenshi hosted Q&A sessions, responded to people voicing concerns, and shared ideas in a sincere manner. Nenshi managed to use the platform to create a genuine and personalized dialogue with the populace, earning their trust and keeping them entertained with his trademark sense of humor. His content marketing strategy didn’t end with the campaign - Nenshi continues to be an avid Twitter-user, keeping his city up-to-date and occasionally making them laugh. Naheed Nenshi@nenshiHere's my piece in today's @nationalpost. Time to move quickly on infrastructure investment. twitter.com/fullcomment/st…9:44 AM - 09 Nov 2015ReplyRetweetFavorite Naheed Nenshi@nenshiI likely did a happy dance as well. Data is good. https://t.co/YgBfiF8ipN12:13 AM - 06 Nov 2015ReplyRetweetFavorite Naheed Nenshi@nenshiGreat story! https://t.co/WTDkXRStIA3:05 PM - 06 Nov 2015ReplyRetweetFavorite Naheed Nenshi@nenshiWhat an honour to be at Captain Nichola Goddard School today for their Remembrance Day ceremony. Thank you. twitter.com/chase_jeff/sta…10:37 PM - 10 Nov 2015ReplyRetweetFavorite 1 of 4 Targeting New AudiencesSocial media is also creating new opportunities for politicians to market themselves to younger demographics and target notoriously hard-to-reach audiences. During the 2008 Presidential election Obama targeted younger demographics by appearing on the The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon to participate in the popular segment “slow jam the news.” Obama used the skit to talk about his efforts to prevent Congress from allowing interest rates on subsidized student loans to double. The segment allowed him to reach a captive audience that typically wouldn't watch CNN or read the newspapers with content relevant to the show’s demographic.In our ‘always on’ media landscape leaders have to work harder than ever to engage the populace and potential voters. Television and radio advertising is becoming less effective and Millennials are becoming an increasingly significant segment of the voting population. In an atmosphere where easily-shareable clips are more effective than television advertisements, this form of content marketing will become more important for politicians looking to engage and mobilize viewers.Slow Jam The News with Barack Obama (Late Night with Jimmy Fallon)by Jen Taylor via YouTubeRedefining The NewsroomThe rise of smartphone technology means anyone with a mobile phone has the capacity to be a journalist. Today the news is live-Tweeted, filmed, and uploaded to YouTube before newsrooms have a chance to put together a polished story. Content from citizen journalists has become a key component of political news coverage and audiences have become accustomed to news reports featuring shaky or grainy cell phone footage.In 2011, the capital of Egypt erupted in violence as thousands of anti-government protesters demanded the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Social media quickly became an important component in both mobilizing the population and reporting on events. Social networks “were instrumental in creating the Arab Spring in 2011, and millions of people around the world use the web to sign petitions, organize and get involved in protest movements,” explains Ira Basen of CBC News.“We use Facebook to schedule protests, Twitter to coordinate, and YouTube to tell the world,” explained an activist in a Tweet. Video uploaded to YouTube, bloggers, and protesters using Facebook and Twitter both mobilized support and gave the world insight into the events unfolding in Tahrir Square. “As the communications landscape gets denser, more complex, and more participatory, the networked population is gaining greater access to information, more opportunities to engage in public speech, and an enhanced ability to undertake collective action,” writes Clay Shirky in Foreign Affairs.Dramatic video as thousands clash with Egypt riot police in Cairoby Jen Taylor via YouTubeThe Political Power of Social MediaIt’s safe to say we no longer sit around and wait for the six o’clock news to learn about breaking events or the latest political updates. Instead we turn to social media to receive updates in real time, and to add our own voices to the mix. Today, 68% of smartphone owners use their mobile phone to follow news events, and about one fifth of young adults (18-34) don’t even have cable. Media consumption patterns are changing and so is the political power of social media.