By: Donald Smith
This week there was an article written on NPR’s website saying how fake news on Facebook could have been a deciding factor in President-elect Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton this past election. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, is currently denying the possibility of Facebook’s ability to influence the election one way or the other. Although this claim is getting increasingly difficult as even Trump said on CBS’ 60 Minutes that Facebook and social media were key factors in his victory.
So, how does this impact governmental public relations? It will make them have to create a team specifically for social media. The reason is because this election cycle was only a preview for what is going to come in a few more cycles.
Going back to 2012, there was a study published showing Facebook feeds having a significant impact on the electorate’s voting patterns. The finding indicated certain messages increased voter turnout approximately by 340,000 votes. Then in 2015 research from Ipsos MORI showed the potential impact social media would have on those between the ages of 18 to 24 years old. In the research they found more than a third of 18 to 24 year olds responded that reading information on social media would influence their vote choice. Lastly, another study found that 41 percent of those between the ages of 15 and 25 participated in some kind of political activity online. Some examples of this would be sharing political videos or tweeting about political happenings.
Here is the kicker. According to an article on Pew Research Millennials, who were 18 to 34 years old as of 2015, outnumber the previous largest generation the Baby Boomers, who were 51 to 69 years old in 2015. From the data stated earlier it would seem social media is the way to Millennials, the generation who will start to lead the electorate within a few election cycles.
Thus, we could see social media being the leader in governmental public relations campaigns, not traditional media, in the near future. Hope your politician already has a Twitter handle.