Social Media and the Politician

I am not a politician nor will I probably (mayorship is enticing, but not in my five-year plan) ever be one. However, there are many reasons why this presidential campaign differs from those in the past. President Obama understood the importance of connecting with his voters in a unique way that is now more important than ever for today’s candidates to pay particular attention to.

President Franklin Roosevelt was, in my opinion, the most effective leader to ever take office. He led the country through incredibly tough financial times during the Great Depression and World War II and kept the public engaged with his fireside chats, which assured them they were going to get through this and made sure they were fully informed. For a president to take the time to address his country in a calm manner was groundbreaking and what made him even more beloved.

Fast forward to today and we have candidates vying for the public’s attention across more channels (television, radio, print, social media, out-of-home, etc) than FDR could have ever imagined. What the public ultimately wants to know with each presidential campaign is, “Will we be okay?” and “Who will look out for us?” We want assurance that our leader will be able to take on complex issues and deliver them to us in a simple manner that is also done in a personal and emotional manner.

Social media is where many of the politician’s targets are divided, but can all be reached through various means. As a society and in relation to the Media Richness Theory brought to us by Daft and Lengel in 1983, managers who process complex information through a rich medium and exchange it back to their organization are more likely to see a positive outcome than doing things by the book and making decisions through numbers and report sheets (Daft and Lengel, 1983).

A way the 2016 presidential candidates can use this information to their advantage is by looking at the mediums and determining the best ways they can engage with the public. For example, we value face-to-face interactions more than formal numerical ones and therefore would respond more positively to a candidate not only addressing our concerns one by one for a specified amount of time, but to incorporate live video streams where they can personally answer any questions you may have. This brings the humanistic approach to the campaign similar to FDR’s “fireside chats” by bringing the politician into our homes and learning more from them, which creates a richer experience. This method could be translated across Facebook as well. Snapchat could be used where the politician does a “day in the life” so we can see more closely their ideas and way of life.

Ultimately, we need our politicians to connect with us as much as the Kardashians and Jenner sisters do, which is why they are able to amass new followers everyday with fresh content and new ways of connecting with their followers.


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