Now that the presidential campaign season is full swing social media has a special part to play in electing a new commander and chief or re-electing our current president. There are some that say that social media elected President Barack Obama in the 2008 election. I would have to agree that the Obama campaign definitely used social media to their advantage. The ads, emails, pictures, videos, and donations all played a part in electing the Senator from Chicago in 2008. An interesting thing that I saw in the 2008 that I don’t think has been in any presidential campaign season prior was online debates. Video sharing website Youtube hosted several debates in the campaign season where Americans got to take part and ask the questions they wanted answered by the candidates. Citizens got to send in videos of themselves asking questions and if they measured up, the candidates would get to answer them. People also got to tweet their questions. What a way to engage!
In addition to all the Youtube debates, almost every campaign has a page on Facebook and an emailing list. At any time throughout the day people are able to receive campaign messages or inspiring citizen stories from their favorite contender. Through those mediums, folks can get involved with working with the campaigns, registering people to vote and responding to posts and emails on all social networking websites.
The idea of using what everyone does every day (i.e.) Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube to reach the core of Americans is now being embraced by politicians and being used to their advantage even taking a former Harvard Law graduate along with Michelle, Sasha, Malia, and Bobo all the way to the White House.
There are a lot of words that come to mind when I try to ascertain social media and its potential effect on society. Everybody from Wikipedia to Webster’s New World may have a definition of the term “social media” but as the term evolves so does the words we use to define it. In our textbook “Engage” Brian Solis references social media as the, “New Media University.” The New Media University term implies that the world is potentially students of all things media. As students “we learn through everything we read and practice.” (Solis tried his best to stress the importance of words. With a new world evolving faster than any of us can keep up with, the words we use to define and describe it is of the upmost importance. Solis highlights words that may have been applicable to define social media in the past but have now become obsolete, “As with anything, words become meaningless if overused and under practiced.” I believe the reason why words and definitions come and go out of style is because of how social media users leave their footprint. In chapter 2 Solis provides the reader with a list of the “peer-to-peer influence and collaboration in social networks and blogs.” (Solis 2011) The list statistically categorizes social media users based off their online behavior. Some folks are spectators, some are critics and some are conversation list and so on. As user ship broadens so does The New Media University and the words we use to define it. I would say that those categories listed above are grades that the University has issued to us “students”. Solis talks about using social media to our advantage, the question then becomes are we receiving a failing grade or are we passing? According to Engage 68 percent of us are spectators. In my opinion, we can do better.