Over the past few years, anyone with a broadband connection has experience social media at some level. Some see it as a way to connect with random people while others see it as a way to connect with friends. In the business world, many see it as a waste of time and drain on corporate productivity, or worse a security risk. One thing for certain, you know that if your grandmother is out there using Facebook, social media has reached a whole new level. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and YouTube have emerged as the new media. So it only makes sense that politicians have whole heartedly embraced social media. Why not?
Blogger Kyle Lacy noted “that President Obama showed the potential for success with the tying of politics and social media in the 2008 election with his millions of friends.” The recent mid-term elections showed us how savvy politicians use social media to their advantage. In fact, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ushered in the state’s new social media standard to make sure that state employees aren’t exposing the state to lawsuits…as well as keeping them productive.
Many new kids on the political block, in this case California Republican Governor nominee Meg Whitman, showed that utilizing new technologies to reach their audiences can indeed have a dramatic impact on the election process. As noted in a blog entry in Mashable:
As it stands, the social web is ripe with opportunities for candidates and office holders alike to connect with voters, foster transparency, and even spar with opponents in the same ways they have been in the traditional media for hundreds of years. We spoke with some innovators who have been tapping into the political power of social media. If their work is any indication, expect the future of elected government to be measured in fans and followers, as well as votes.
I find it interesting to watch the growth of the use of social media. From re-connecting with friends from high school, to showing the world images of political demonstrations, to sharing ideas with constituents during the election process, social media has changed the way we work in today’s world. At the same time, the role of the gatekeeper – the tough editor or journalist who filtered the story to understandable chunks – is greatly diminishing. Is this a good thing? Are we better off with social media, or is this leading us in a direction we might regret? For better or worse, it likely can’t be stopped.