Face-to-face with Boris
I can’t be the only one who spends (seemingly) hours scrolling through my Facebook homepage in the hope of finding something remotely worth a read, can I? These days, our social media feeds seem to be littered with all sorts of false stories and clickbait – but nevertheless, we can’t seem to unstick our eyes from our phone screen no matter how hard we try.
Today’s politicians are by no means the first to take advantage of this smartphone addiction, with many activists and those committed to making a change resorting to social media to attract as much attention as possible. Donald Trump is a prime example of this, using Twitter to bypass traditional media and get his message (no matter how controversial) directly to voters. Now, in the UK, Boris Johnson – our new PM or ‘Britain Trump’ as Trump himself somewhat bizarrely referred to him – is set to communicate with his voters through Facebook Live.
I can hear some of the older readers (Hi Grandad!) thinking, what happened to reaching people through a good, old fashioned newspaper? Whilst social media certainly lacks the nostalgic tangibility that printed news offers, the public is likely to benefit from unfiltered, direct communication that comes straight from the horse’s mouth.
We’ve all seen Donald Trump’s presence on social media, haven’t we? Apart from the multiple faux pas made on Twitter, referring to Prince Charles as the ‘Prince of Whales’ and Cofeve just two examples, he has used social media to more effectively communicate with the US, whilst showcasing his true personality.
Back in the UK, Boris has already addressed his social followers, answering their questions (People’s PMQs) through Facebook’s Live function. Although it’s thought that this new approach could act as a motivational tool throughout the EU referendum, some suspect that it’s merely an attempt by Boris to hide away from the scrutiny he might otherwise face from journalists.
Despite all the controversy surrounding it, the new PM communicating through social media is a sign of the times and probably something we’re likely to see more of. Making it easier for Boris to safeguard his reputation, but also, on paper, it makes him look more approachable and engaging. So, despite his many naysayers, it will probably end up serving to enhance his public image.
From a more technical point of view, political interaction on social media is likely to help boost the success of the campaigns themselves. By investigating the analytics of their online audience, users can customise their messages to target selected demographics – which allows politicians to reach susceptible audiences who are likely keen to hear what they’ve got to say.
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