EFFECTIVENESS OF SOCIAL MEDIA AS A TOOL FOR POLITICAL MOBILIZATION
1.1 Background to the Study
The mass media have since emerged as the most common source of information about election campaigns in democracies and societies in transition around the world (Macnamara, 2008). In terms of the sheer volume of information available to citizens via the media on issues - political parties and leaders; electioneering often represents a high point for political communications. The fact is, there is a great need for the people to be informed during elections and other exercises in the whole political processes leading up to the election (Denver, 2007, p. 125).
The electoral body in Nigeria-Independent National Electoral Commission, and political parties, as well as aspirants uses various platforms to reach the widely dispersed electorate- for mobilization, political participation or registration, voting process, politicking, and to sensitize the people on the best conduct during the election exercise.
Communication is at the center of all political activities, and the new Internet technologies offer various platforms where information and other socio-political communication can be constructed and discussed. This has made the medium become a formidable one; the mobilizing structure of the social networks and all resources necessary for popular mobilization, which in this case is contained in social media as the fastest and cheapest way to mobilize (Stark 2010). Increasing use of the new media has extended interaction in time and space.
In Nigeria, though presently popular amongst the elite, the social media (and other social networks, SNS) are gaining currency in politics. Amongst the elite, the social media provide unhindered communication with Internet users anywhere, anytime almost simultaneously (Nwoye, & Okafor, 2014:36). Individual users of the social media steer the use of verbal and non-verbal communication and accessories to remove territorial boundaries in their interaction with others. Thus, the Internet has enhanced access which is both open and close.
The throng of population social media has attracted in these years, as well as its unrestrained ubiquity and multimedia capabilities have all contributed to the success of new media technology and its growing popularity in political communication. It is an undeniable reality that the emergence of the Internet and other social networking sites available to the people in this information age have revolutionized and redefined the entire mass communication process (Sunstein, 2011).
With social media recently evolving as a platform for social, informational, and political exchange, it has become an influential tool used to effectively target numerous sectors in our society. It comes as no surprise that politicians are using these channels to influence attitudes about themselves, set agenda, and even shape outcomes of campaigns (Gale, 2010). The recently evolved “micro-blogging” social media site, Twitter, is the ideal vehicle for this kind of self-promotion; thus, giving politicians the
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