How social media made the political personal


The study tracked the Facebook and Instagram profiles of Najib Razak, Hishamuddin Hussein, Khairy Jamaluddin, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Nurrul Izzah Anwar, Azmin Ali, Abdul Hadi Awang and Ahmad Dusuki from nomination day (April 28) to the day after the election (May 10). – June 28, 2018.

POLITICIANS who personalised their general election campaigns on social media platforms, such as Instagram and Facebook, reaped the most rewards, a study has found.
 
According to Dr Shafizan Mohamed “the agenda-setting of social media can be more powerful than traditional mainstream media, but politicians have to get more personal with it”.
 
The study, which analysed Facebook and Instagram posts from eight politicians from Barisan Nasional, Pakatan Harapan and PAS, found that social media platforms were an effective way for politicians to push forward their agendas.
 
The study tracked the Facebook and Instagram profiles of Najib Razak, Hishamuddin Hussein, Khairy Jamaluddin, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Nurrul Izzah Anwar, Azmin Ali, Abdul Hadi Awang and Ahmad Dusuki from nomination day (April 28) to the day after the election (May 10).
 
The study also found that their social media campaigns were different from party campaigns. 
 
“We found no correlation between what was presented on their social media with the party’s manifesto,” said Shafizan at the International Islamic University seminar on GE14 today.
 
She said the politicians mainly posted photographs of themselves and personal manifestos.
 
“The politicians only talked about the election, themselves, and their manifesto,” said Shafizan.
 
Younger politicians, such as Nurul Izzah in particular, used social media to raise their profile among the electorate leading up to the election, but politicians across the board focused almost entirely on the election in their posts, and used their posts to target voters above anyone else.
 
While Shafizan said politicians were using social media to set their agendas, she also found that they were not presenting any new issues or that the issues often correlated with the party’s agenda. 
 
However, they did offer a personal representation of their party’s agenda that differed from how it was reported by mainstream media.
 
The study also showed that Facebook posts attracted comments from readers asking for political change.
 
Also seen was how the Pakatan Harapan politicians’ posts attracted more positive comments compared with Barisan Nasional’s ones,” she said.
 
Similar sentiments could be found on Twitter, where, according to Dr Mohd Faizal Kasmani, 27.2% of posts were pro-PH, compared with just 10.5% pro-BN.
 
However, he found that Twitter differed from Facebook in that politicians had limited agenda-setting power, as individual users dominated the discourse.
 
In observing social media usage of politicians ahead of the election, Shafizan also found that, as election day neared, the frequency of posts increased, with politicians posting almost hourly the day before the election in a bid to raise their profiles.
 
However, there was a sharp fall after the election in the number of posts, particularly among Umno politicians, which she said could be because “Umno politicians didn’t know what to post” after the shocking results. – June 28, 2018.


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