Sep 18, 2012 at 4:24pm
Social Media & Election 2012
COMMENTARY ON SOCIAL MEDIA AND ELECTION 2012
Social Media has since 2008 been a catch phrase worldwide.
Although it existed way before then, Barack Obama’s use of social media in his 2008 election campaign arguably is what really drew people’s attention to what a powerful tool (social media) is, especially, for youth interactions.
Social Media sites are internet based platforms or tools where user generated content is shared and social or corporate interactions are held.
The most popular of these social media networks/platforms include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blogger and Google+.
The popularity of social media sites in Ghana is ever changing, with Yahoo Chat Rooms, Hi5 and Myspace being replaced by Facebook as the top Social Media site in Ghana.
Official Facebook statistics say there are some 1.4 million Ghanaians on the network, a number which is estimated to probably be more than the official figure.
Of that number, 1.1 million are between the ages of 18-35, the most active age group on facebook.
Another buzzing Social Media network, Twitter is gaining attraction in Ghana.
Social Media will surely play a critical role in the December polls.
Parties and candidates are using it to address issues, share their plans and announce results.
Blogging Ghana with support from STAR-Ghana has since January 2012, started a Social Media project on the elections called Ghana Decides.
The project is encouraging youth participation, training Civil Society Organisations on Social Media and providing information on the electoral process and issues.
Traditional Media Houses have also embraced Social Media.
Notably, Citi FM, which recently won Innovative Newsroom Award at the 16th Telkom Highway Africa Awards 2012 for their use of Google+ plus hangout and other social media for radio interviews, Joy TV live streamed on YouTube, the IEA Evening Encounters and GBC which uploads regularly its news items to its YouTube channel.
Although not too visible, social media was used in the 2008 elections; candidates Atta Mills, Akufo-Addo and Nduom all had and used facebook profiles.
The African Election Project tweeted some results and there was also an online community on facebook and twitter, who regularly shared updates, results and discussed some of the issues and events of the election.
2012 looks set to be the first real social media election for Ghana.
With politicians drawing inspiration from Barack Obama’s use of social media to connect to youth voters in 2008 to the use of social media during the Arab Springs, Ghanaian politicians, parties, companies, organisations and media houses, are incorporating social media in their strategy.
President John Dramani Mahama, when he was Vice President, run a Facebook account where he occasionally posted his thoughts on issues like the Arab Springs and African Unity.
He also opened a Twitter account in November 2010, which he personally tweeted for 94 times and has one thousand nine hundred followers.
On assuming the highest office of the land, President Mahama's communication team started a new facebook account which has twenty-two thousand likes and he has personally posted updates to the page.
The Akufo-Addo 2012 campaign has a New Media Team and is active on Facebook.
With the recent eCampaign launch and e-dialogue, the Akuffo Addo campaign seems to have taken a lead in use of social media by politicians in Ghana.
Papa Kwesi Nduom and the PPP Campaign arguably have the biggest following on social media in Ghana.
Nduom regularly engages people on the page and holds facebook chats.
His facebook like that of the other candidates is primarily used to engage people on issues and the PPP policies but Nduom uses it in a more aggressive way.
CPP Presidential Candidate Dr.
Abu Sakara Foster has a facebook page with six hundred and eighty likes.
He recently started tweeting at CPPOnlineGhana.
The PNC’s Hassan Ayariga since May 2011 has had a Twitter account and has 14 followers.
Quite appalling but it seem social media is not in the party’s plans although technology is one of the key points of his campaign.
On Members of Parliament, the MP for Effutu and Minister of Lands & Natural Resources, Mike Hamah also has a presence on social media.
On his personal facebook profile page, he has reached the 5000 friends limit and 540 subscribers.
On his facebook page, he has 60+likes.
His profile has a lot of pictures from his community engagements.
Hanna Tetteh, Jake Obetsebi Lamptey, Samuel Ablakwa are among active politicians on Facebook in Ghana.
Essentially, social media has changed the way we communicate and political parties and candidates are embracing it.
In the same way crowds at rallies can translate into votes is the same way Social Media can influence people and win an election.
No matter how you look at it, 2012 is a social media election year.
BY: KWABENA AKUAMOAH-BOATENG, SOCIAL MEDIA ASSETS MANAGER, GHANA DECIDES - A BLOGH ELECTION PROJECT.