Long term monitoring of Philippine elections development.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Philippines 2010 Elections Campaign Station in Social Networks

More and more Filipino Internet users are embracing social networks to connect with their peers, customers, and constituency. Last Thursday, I received a call from GMA 7 to be interviewed on the use of social networks by politicians.

Questions that were asked, as far as I can recall, includes:

  • What can you say about politicians exploiting social networks?
    My answer: I think exploit is not the appropriate word. It is more "taking advantage or maximizing it". I find most politicians to be late bloomers in using social networks in its current form.

    Earlier, those who thought of creating one simply posted their profiles and nothing more. People also get confused whether they are real or a fan simply created it. Furthermore, Internet users in this site often wonder if they are the ones really logging on.

  • Why are politicians tapping social networks now?
    It is to their advantage and an affordable medium as well. With so many Filipinos online, especially overseas who can vote, it is an effective medium to raise consciousness on issues. Whether they are able to engage the members or not, the mere fact that they are reachable is important. Especially if the social network account is for real, sincerity, and authenticity of its use.

  • With a politician having several accounts in one site, how would followers know that they are the real one?
    They should guard their identity online and request for removal of accounts that tends to mislead people. However, if they are clearly communicated as a fan or follower site, then that should not be a problem. What they can also do is post a link to social network site profiles from their home pages.
With the elections happening in 2010, politicians and the parties where they belong to should as early as now consider social networks as a virtual office to reach out to their constituency. If done correctly, it can be used to:
  • Discuss issues and pending policies that encourages citizens to take an active part. With more Filipinos getting disengaged in political discussion, this can be one way to reach out.

  • Show the human side. Politicians are still normal people like you and me. Having a social network profile, especially if set-up properly and actively used, shows a lot about the person and sheds some insight as well.

  • Use it to communicate. The problem with e-mail these days is the volume of spam that goes along with it. With social networks, members can send a correspondence directly to a politician and one must take an active effort in replying to them. Its beauty also is that all senders have a profile that allows a politician to catch a glimpse also of social network users.

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