Social Media Use In Political Campaign In Anambra State

Social Media Use In Political Campaign In Anambra State (A Study Of 2015 Senatorial Election In

Aguata L.G.A)

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

  • Background of the Study

The emergence of the internet as the new mass medium of the 21st century now changes the mass media substantially. Information can be distributed at high speed, low cost and broad scope as a result; there is egalitarian access to the production and the consumption of news (Prat and Stromberg, 2011).

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The 2015 general elections in Nigeria was hailed internationally as historic, with social media playing greater influence on the election. Social media with all its flaws had the power of immediacy. They are very participatory, in an election where you have citizens who are participating; they were also providing the news and information surrounding the elections. That is not to say that the traditional media did not play a role, but the social media role was central.

Political movements have begun to see social media as a major organizing and recruiting tool. Social media (if used right) is inherently a two-way communication system, rather than getting brand messages you get recommendation from fiends in the form of re-shares and recommended posts, which de-commercializes the brand message.

Social media is that space, the many tools helping to amplify the voice of average Nigerians, taking ordinary voice and making them extraordinary by bringing them to homes, offices and places most of them would have probably never reached under different circumstances.

According to Eugene (2015), the popularity of getting political news from social media platform is greatly increasing. A 2014 study shows that 62% of web users turn to Facebook to find political news. This social phenomenon allows for political information, true or not, spreading quickly and easily among peer networks. Furthermore, social media sites are now encouraging political movement by uniting likeminded people, reminding users to vote in elections and analyzing user political affiliation. As social media gains popularity and scope, its impact on voters political perception cannot be underestimated.

The social media has become a powerful platform for political marketing of a candidate in an election and into gain more popularity. It is sometimes used by rival political opponents to de-market each other. An urgly trend that is common in Nigeria political sphere.

The most popular social media often employed for political motive are Facebook, Youtube and Twittrer. They are used to let voters know how each party or a particular candidate felt about important national issues ranging from security to power and the well fare of the electorates.

Hence social media influence voters decisions and choices as many voters who had fixed their mind on voting a particular party or candidate may begin to change their minds based on certain information or idea they got online about a party or candidate.

  • Statement of the Problem

The use of emotional appeal in political campaign to increase support for a candidate or decrease support for an opponent is a widely recognized practice and a common element of any campaign strategy (Brader, 2006).

Campaigns often seek to instill positive emotions such as zeal and hopefulness about a candidate to improve turnout and political activision while seeking to raise fear and anxiety about the opposition. Zeal tends to reinforce performance for the candidate and party, while fear and anxiety interrupt voters’ behavioral patterns and leads individual voter to look for new sources of information on divergent political issues (Marcus et al, 2000).

Previous researchers have found that it is possible to influence a person’s attitude towards a political candidate using carefully crafted information about such candidate online which in turn may influence the voter’s behaviour towards the candidate. Social media are used by various parties to propagate false news and propaganda about the opposition in order to disfavor such party or candidate in the eyes of the electorates while exonerating theirs. Many politicians have been found in compromising position with their words or phrases take out of context and magnified to a huge proportion by opposition parties in order to discredit them.

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It is against these backdrops, that this work seeks to study social media use in during the 2015 Senatorial election in Aguata L.G.A.

  • Objectives of the Study

The objective of the study is to find out the role played by social media during the 2015 senatorial election in Aguata LGA. Hence the specific objectives are:-

  1. To find out the role played by social media in creating awareness in 2015 senatorial election in Aguata LGA.
  2. To determine the level of influence social media has on the success of the election.
  • To find out the factors that drive awareness creation on social media during the 2015 senatorial election in Aguata LGA.
  1. To identify the lessons from the role of social media played in 2015 senatorial election in Aguata LGA.
    • Research Questions

Based on the research objectives, the researcher proposed the following research questions.

  1. What are the role played by social media in creating awareness in the 2015 senatorial election in Aguata LGA?
  2. To what extent did social media contribute to the success of the present winner in the 2015 senatorial election?
  3. To what extent did contestant employ the social networking site of facebook in the campaign for the 2015 senatorial election?
  4. In what ways do social media need improvement to play major role in elections in Anambra State.
    • Significance of the Study

This study will help been the searchlight on the influence of social media use in cr eating awareness during elections. It will also enlighten relevant stakeholders such as political parties, candidates and the civil society on how social media can bring about awareness and campaign opportunities if properly utilized.

The research study will help stakeholders to understand that maintaining a good and healthy profile online with cordial relationship between the party and voters can positively influnec voters’ behaviour. Lastly, this study will add to the body of existing knowledge and scholarly literature on the imperativeness of social media trend in political education, mobilization and participation.

  • Scope of the Study

This study is limited to the topic “social media use in the 2015 general election”, with particular focus on the senatorial election in Aguata LGA. The choice of the area of study is the researcher’s discretion.

  • Limitation of the Study

The researcher faced several limitation in the course of this study, due to the limited literature on the topic it was difficult to make the review expensive. Time equally hampered in dept investigation, as the time span for the work is too short.

  • Definition of Terms

Awareness: The ability to be conscious of something

Election:     The formal of selecting a person for public office in a democratic government.

Facebook: An online social media platform that allows users to interact.

Social Media: Computer mediated tools that allows people to create, share both visual and text information online

CHAPTER TWO

Literature Review

2.1     Introduction

This chapter explores related works around the globe where social media played a major role in creating awareness not only to election but to democratization process that has been coming. The section equally make incursions into some domestics studies that focused on similar topics.

The work is anchored on Technological Determination Theory.

2.2     Social Media and Political Communication

          Social media shaped political communication in four major ways. Firstly, it has deepened segmentation of audience triggered by the rise of network television channels and specialized magazine and websites. Segmentation of audience is a product of two main elements of the social media; diversification of coverage and selective exposure (that is finding information that aligns with the predispositions of individuals) (Stroud, 2008). Social media makes it possible for its users to read and discuss specific issues and then connect with other individuals who share their beliefs. This has the possibility of creating individual voters that are fixated on specific issues and who may not be able to relate with the wider issues that are part of a general election. The existence of different media and brand of information platform can slit political communication into different segments all addressing the same issues from different perspectives.

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The second way social media has shaped political communication is by weakening the gate-keeping capacity of the traditional media. Before the emergence of social media, the traditional media played a key role in deciding what is sufficiently important to be aired to the public. This gatekeeping role of the traditional media enables it to set the aganda of public discourse.

Finally, social media has emerged as the new influencer as social, economic and political settings. Research has shown increasing use of social media for political communication has led to declining newspaper readership and televsion viewership in many countires (Australia Media and Communication Authority, 2007). Under this circumstance, the social may likely continue to dominate political communication, and to serve as a tool for gathering and disseminating political message.

2.2.1  Role of Social Media in Democracy

In recent times, world politics have witnessed lot of events, where social media played a significant-role. Social media led to major overhauling of the world politics. On one side long standing regimes of dictators got buried under the weight of revolution spear-headed by internet connectivity and on the otherhand voters got influenced by the compaigns on social media (Surjit and Manpreet, 2013). As the internet has becomes ever-present, quicker, and ever more accessible to non-technical communities, social networking and mutual services have grown rapidly, enable people to communicate and share interests in many more ways (Ogesomi et al, 2014, p.121).

In 21st century, Facebook and Twitter are not just innovations in the internet world, but are fast emerging as influencers and opinion creators. The use of social media in politics has continued to grow in recent times. Since Barack Obama broke the world record in the history of social media use for political  purpose during the 2005 US presidential election, many nations and politicians across the globe have continued to embrace the platform to mobilize their citizens and candidates towards active participation in the political process.

The tactics employed by Barack Obama in his presidential election campaign in the 2005 US election has changed the rules of political communication and since then electoral campaigns have been more about social networking, using the existing and emerging social media platform than the convertional approach which emphasized more of one-way communication with limited chances to generate feedback (Okoro & Kenneth, 2013). This singular event brought social networks into hinelight especially Facebook which has now been turned to an advertising medium especially in Nigeria.

2.2.2  Role of Social Media in Creating Awareness in Nigerian Election

Nigeria had her first test of social media use for political purpose during the 2011 general elections. The New Technology played an unprecedented role in the April 2011 Nigerian General Elections. INEC officials had in early March 2011 welcomed the assistance of civil society volunteers with its Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as a new media situation room which received feedback from the public and later began to provide real time information and answered construent questions.

Nigerian politicians activity utilized social media in their campaigns. They send bulk text and voice messages in unprecedented numbers. They made massive use of facebook pages and other social media platforms to win support and canvass for votes. For instance, President Jonathan declared his intention to run for the presidency on facebook and subsequently became the second most “liked” leader in the world after US President Barack Obama (Fanpagelist.com).

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Organizations such as, Enough is Enough Nigeria, Reclaim Naija, WangoNet and landLago established platforms enabling citizen to report election-related ineidences with pictures, videos, text messages and voicemail. At the same time, traditional media houses such as channels television, 234 Next and Punch newspaper used new media to disseminate information and gather feedback from viewers.

Adibe, Odoanelem and Orji (2012, p.46) further observed that during the elections in Nigeria many Nigerians were armed with their blackbaries and Tweetfeeds. One of such Nigerian was Gbanga, a 33 year old IT consultant and an activist. His team had designed a smart phone application called “Revoda”which allowed voters to instantly upload reports of delayed voting materials and intimidating gang at their local polling stations to their data base, a daily summary was then sent to nigerian election officials and wester observers as well as posted on their Revoda website.

There was another group, “Reclaim Naija” who used text messages and e-mail reports to compile a live online map of trouble sports. There were also “Twitter ativists” whose jobs was to look out for rigging and spread warning about bombings at polling stations. Omonugha, (2011, p.67) observed that this massive use of social media culminated in the success of the election acclaimed the freest and the fairest in the history of the country.

Meanwhile, this disagrees with the observations of Adeyaju and Harana (2011, p.37) who observed that the technology did the nation greater lain than good as it provides avenue to disseminate provocative and inciting message that eventually precepitated the post election violence and tension witnessed in many parts of the country, particularly in the Northern part.

This study will, however, shade more light on the positive effects the social media have particularly Facebook and Twitter in creating positive awareness to the general public and explore the way individuals use the social media to enlighten the general public.

2.3     Theoretical Framework

This work is anchored on two relevant media theories

2.3.1  Uses and Gratifications Theory

The uses and gratification approach to the analysis of media impacts on audience was pionered by Blanller and Katz (1974) when the reversed the traditional research agenda by asking why people used the media rather than enquiring into the effects, if any, the media might have on the audiences. In Katz own words, the research question was “not” ‘what do the media do to people?’ but “what do people do with the media?” “Katz, 1959). Use and gratification abandoned the common discussion and emphasis on effects but rather focused on reception functions.

In this study, the uses and gratification theory is selected because it perceives the consumer of media fare as actively influency the consumption or reception, since they selectively chooses, pays attention to, interpret and retain the media message on the basis of

Social Media Use In Political Campaign In Anambra State

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