WHERE in the World are these Tweets Coming From?

6 10 2009

As my previous post discussed, a large part of Sarah Palin’s successful social media strategy is based on her ability to bypass mainstream media and connect one-on-one with the public. While this is an unusual case in the U.S., such an opportunity is exactly what aspiring political leaders in developing and middle-income countries need: to avoid government control and propaganda and reach out to the citizens. Because of this, we are seeing an increasing amount of political leaders around the world maintain an active online presence.

A popular travel blogger by the name of Mo-ha-med gathered information about political leaders globally; from Latin America, across Asia and deep into Sub-Saharan Africa. He found many examples of these leaders having established Facebook Politician fan pages, YouTube accounts, photo albums and Twitter accounts. However, it is important to point out the prevelance of alternative regional social networking sites available in many countries. Both China and India are almost invisible on Facebook but China’s Xiaonei and India’s Bigadda are both extremely popular.

The blogger also suggests that the inaccessibility of the public to the internet and social networking sites would greatly discourage leaders from becoming active online. However, Facebook recently launched a new Facebook Lite interface for developing nations and their citizens who desire a simpler, easier to load version of the popular site.

twitter_africa

In my personal experience backpacking through East Africa, I found that most of the African citizens I interacted with did in fact have Facebook and visited the sites regularly at local internet cafes, so I was not surprised to read about the extensive activity of African leaders (or hopefuls) online.

Using social media technology to connect with the public by other means than the traditional, untrustworthy and corrupt government is a huge step for developing countries and a testament to the rapid development occurring overseas. Politicians have so far used the technology to display a human side of the political system, previously unheard of in these parts of the world, rather than express political opinions and addressing the issues. But establishing trust and building relationships rather than collecting votes is exactly what Anthony LaFauce has theorized that politicians SHOULD be doing through social media; an alternative approach than we saw in my previous post about McDonnell and Deeds’ uses of social media with combined personality with strong political messages.

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One response

12 10 2009
Caroline Blanzaco

Wow, I really find this fascinating! Social media is a great tool for leaders or anyone to express their feelings in a tamper-free environment. In developing worlds where going to vote can often times be a life or death situation, being able to focus online is a safer alternative! With the internet becoming available nearly everywhere in the world, people who cannot rely on corrupt social institutions for news can trust social networking sites for reliable information. It is great that credible politicians are using these online tools to get honest information out to people who might never know the truth otherwise. Really interesting!

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