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The transformative impact of social media on advocacy and politics

Used with the permission of
Used with the permission of
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The accessibility, convenience and power of social media has definitely transformed politics and advocacy. Not only are there millions of users on those social channels it also includes institutions or public figures from the public and private sector. A senior researcher, Aaron Smith, spoke on July 29, 2014 for the Public Affairs Council Social Media and Advocacy Summit in Washington, D.C that analyzed the state and influence of these communication channels.

The discussion included what sort of effects has these new technology platforms brought since their arrival and growing usage. The survey conducted by the Pew Research Center (PEJ) looked at several different areas of interest. How the technology changed people’s lives forever.

For example, the level of tech use in the 2000s was limited to half the country going online to conduct discrete activities. Fast forward to the present time, in 2014 tech use or going on the web is increasingly on the go, according to the PEJ.

As social media becomes mainstream usage is growing for older adults. However, the majority of users (ages 18 to 29) make up 90 percent while other users (ages 50 to 64) represent 65 percent.

What is the preferred social media website? The findings from the survey suggest Facebook is the dominant platform in comparison to LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram. On the contrary Facebook has stiff competition from Instagram and Twitter when taking into account comparable levels of user engagement. Below are the percentages:

  • 63 percent Facebook
  • 57 percent Instagram
  • 46 percent Twitter
  • 23 Pinterest
  • 13 LinkedIn

Just because a user has more than one account on each of these social networking services does not mean they are from the same demographic. Each social platform tailors to different groups (income, education, race, profession etc.) Pinterest is one social network where the majority of users is women.

Politicians have seeing the monumental value and importance of having a presence online. In the United States (U.S) Democrats are supposedly more likely than Republicans to use Twitter (19 percent vs. 10 percent).

The analysis from this survey also includes that Democrats believe social media is important to their political activity. There has been no better influential Democrat President Barack Obama who practically pioneered the campaign trail in 2008 and in 2012.

As the commercial enterprise of newspapers disappeared users starting looking elsewhere to get the news. Facebook is slowly but surely become a hub for searching and sharing the news. The survey by PEJ has 16 percent of people who get the news on Facebook.

Twitter unlike Facebook is used far more since its microblogging website is the place for news breaking events. It is especially true when natural disasters take place or for protests like the ones that took place during the revolts in the Middle East.

Twitter has been able to offer something even other social networks or television can offer. It is simply the narrative or the tone of conversations vastly different from the public opinion.

Finally, social media has revolutionized many industries and transformed the world. In addition, it has one consequence that was not foreseeable and that is that opinions when politics is concerned tend to be very polarized.

To recap some of the fascinating finding from this summit you can click on the Slideshare link to get the full details on the survey.

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