About 10 years ago, people were laughing, criticising and maybe even booing at the older generation of politicians for attempting to connect with the younger 4G/5G population using social media. Today, our prime minister's Twitter account has nearly 800,000 followers. Likewise for some of our other politicians.
Whether this has helped in influencing the elections, no one can really say, but certainly this has helped in enabling more voices from the public - for good or for bad. Besides, there is also a host of other factors influencing popularity and voting - personal interaction, perception from other media, etc. But this number is still outstanding on any level, whether in the government / public or private sector. Not every company out there has that ability to amass that many followers. And it shows the importance of managing public relations at the digital level.
So when I hear the “campaigning vans” circling our estate these few days, I think: “This must be how elections” were done in the 1960s and 70s. There was no Internet, no TVs and the only way candidates could get word out was to announce themselves over the loud hailers and door knocking. The door knocking still happens today though - and nothing can replace the human touch.
But today's election rallies go beyond the door knocks. We have Facebook live videos, Zoom 'townhall' webinars, Instagram stories, etc. I am not sure if the older generation resonates with this (probably why there is still door knocking and vans still patrol the streets). Quite a few of them I know are still pretty resistant to posting stuff online, doing internet banking and making online payments.
Only time will tell whether or not these have been really effective, but for now, based on the viewership numbers and the real-time comments appearing during those live feeds, these digital initiatives seem to be the one thing in this year's election that is proving to be giving the social media saavy people an edge.