Social Media and Politics: A Good Mix


USF expert says politicians can’t overlook social media tools as a way of reaching voters and donors.



By Amy Mariani

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Jan. 18, 2012) -- Television, newspapers, meet-and-greets. These are some tools politicians can use to get their message across.


But there’s a growing trend for the use of new tools in the social media arena.


"All candidates need to be involved in social media these days," said Kelli Burns, University of South Florida associate professor and social media expert. "It may not win the campaign, but it's definitely something you need to use today."


Burns said a social media presence is necessary for politicians to connect with their voters. Some potential voters, however, say it's hard to trust what they read in their timeline.


"I'm a little wary," said Kristina Heritage, a USF student. "If a politician posts something on their blog or Twitter or Facebook, they're just going to frame things in the best light possible."


It may be that people are searching for a connection, but not information.


The Pew Research Center conducted a study of online adults during the 2010 midterm elections. The Center found that 22 percent of online adults used social media for politics during this time. Yet 47 percent of these Americans said they did not follow for information about the candidate, but rather to feel more personally connected.


Amy Mariani can be reached at 813-974-0331.