Why Social Media is Important for Community Engagement?

Resource Government
March 12, 2013 — 823 views  
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Ever since the aptly-called 'Facebook election' of Barack Obama as the President of the United States in 2008, social media has been a point of political reference for citizens, media, and politicians alike. And it's not the people who run these social media sites, but rather the millions of users on these sites who have altered political processes all over the world.

The tools available in social media can be used to create, track, support, and mobilize these networks. They have significant potential to enhance various community engagement efforts. They provide new forums to facilitate idea exchange, to raise issues, and to engage a larger community.

The Social Media Potential

Social media is an emerging mechanism that can be used for engaging large and diverse groups of participants. It also facilitates as a forum for discussion that is different from interactions which are face-to-face, since every participant gets an opportunity to add their viewpoints to the discussion. Immediate responses are not required and the thread can be reviewed at an individual pace. It can also generate an archive for revisiting information, collective history, and opinions. An evaluation of the engagement and usage activities of the users acts as a barometer for the community engagement capacity of that group.

Accessible Community Leaders: Since the social media revolution, the general public has a better connection to politics and leaders. Instead of watching TV or reading the news on the Internet, users can directly read news on the social media pages and interact one-on-one with leaders or voting candidates. Personal contact empowers citizens with immediate access to information.

More Youth Voters: Through easy sharing of campaign information and ways to support candidates, social media has helped in political mobilization of the youth, especially students. As more young people participate intensely in the political process, they have a bigger say in deciding the processes that make the ballots and drive campaigns.

Better Campaign Targeting: The accessibility to politicians allows users to receive quick feedback about the politician’s position with respect to other opponents. Campaign strategists and organizers analyze this feedback and use it to target specific groups, raise funds and rally supporters.

Reflective Media Coverage: The communication of the public with the politicians makes the media take a backseat in the process of reporting. In order to reach larger audiences, leaders post messages on their own social media pages. This in turn garners responses from the public. The media has to report these responses which replace the traditional press reporting with an increasingly reflective coverage style which covers latest issues.

Organizing Marches and Protests: Social media works not only as a means of communication and support, but also as a means of displaying resistance. Using social media, people around the world have organized protests and marches. Users can engage in political activity without being suppressed by the government, especially in authoritarian nations.

Social networks help to understand a community and mobilize them. Growing amounts of community engagement efforts, which are popular and have been promoted through the use of social media, have brought forward the potential of social media.

Resource Government