April 22, 2019

Each day, the average online user spends 40 minutes on YouTube, 35 minutes on Facebook and one minute on Twitter. Social media use currently accounts for 30 percent of time spent online and is shaping networking and social interactions. This platform is also transforming the political landscape.

Social media and political campaigns

Social media is becoming an important element of a successful political campaign. This platform is transforming how citizens engage with causes they care about and interact with their representatives.

Social media engagement in politics.

According to Adweek, politicians spend 9 percent of their campaign budget on social media, primarily to reach out to millennials and those belonging to Gen Z.

Tomorrow's voters will be more informed than ever before and creating this direct connection on social media could be the key to earning votes. Spending 9 percent of a campaign budget on social media might not seem like much, but it's important to keep in mind that there is a huge potential for free exposure.

Besides reaching out to a wider audience on a small budget, candidates can use social media to share messages tailored to their audience, create a more direct contact with potential voters and have conversations on important issues.

Social media can be a game-changer for small campaigns that manage to go viral.

How is social media driving civic engagement?

In 2018, one in two Americans were civically engaged on social media. There are different forms of engagement for these users, but joining a group comes first with 34 percent of these users. For 32 percent of these users, civic engagement was about encouraging others to take action.

Young voters were more likely to use social media for civic engagement, but Republican and Democrat voters are both likely to use this platform.

Participatory politics

Various social media platform icons.

Voters expect more accountability and communication from their representatives. They want to have conversations in real time via social media, and candidates and representatives can use this platform to get a better idea of what matters the most to voters.

For 23 percent of Americans, social media plays a critical part in getting elected officials to pay attention to important issues. For 21 percent of people, social media is seen as a powerful force that will drive long-term social change.

And for 15 percent of Americans, social media can play a crucial role in influencing policy decisions.

Does social media work as a political platform?

Those who use social media to discuss and draw attention to the issues feel that the platform is an excellent way to get their voice heard and hold representatives accountable. However, there are some drawbacks to consider.

Fake stories tend to spread a lot faster than accurate information, and some users encounter negative experiences when expressing their views due to flooding and emotionally charged content. For 35 percent of Americans, social media is seen as a platform that distracts users from what really matters.

Social media user reading about the presidential inauguration on a cell phone.

A good 28 percent believe that social media gives people the impression that they are making a difference without it actually being the case.

Even though social media is a great way to stay connected, share information and voice one's opinion, it shouldn't completely replace other forms of engagement. It's Up To Us organizes events and competitions on college campuses to bring students together to discuss the national debt, encouraging their legislators to address fiscal responsibility. Join us to make these connections and build awareness over these issues.