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This study investigated the impact of social media on political marketing during the 2015 governorship election in Delta State. The research objectives include to determine the determine the political message aspirants share on social media, to ascertain the challenges of political marketing on social media. The survey method was employed while the questionnaire was research instrument. A total of 120 respondents who were randomly selected were used. Data were analysed using simple percentage and frequency tables. The findings show that many people are politically inclined to use the social media often to source for political information. This emphasized that political advertising on social media is trusted by the electorates. Political marketing using the social media provide opportunities for Nigeria politicians to have a wider coverage of the electorates. The study recommends that political marketing agencies should ensure that the marketing on the social media reflects the basic need of the people so as to draw public attention and motivate them to make favourable voting decision. Politician should use political advertising as a way to high light their unique selling points as it is the most captivating message in advertisement.
1.1 Background to the Study
Election is a period of transition of government from one person to another. The mandate of leadership is gotten from the majority votes from election exercise. The voters are regarded as the most important parties to election. This can be seen from the system of democracy which gives the citizens the right to choose their leader through casting of their votes.
According to Elekwa (2008:21) “the electoral process relates to entire cycle ranging from provision of voter education to the dissolution of the National Assembly”. According to Akamere (2001) “electoral process refers to all the activities and procedure involved in the election of representatives by the electorates. It refers to all the pre and post election activities without which an election is meaningless”.
These activities according to Nnamadi (2014) include the registration of political parties, review of voters, registers delineation of constituencies, resolution of electoral disputes, return of elected representatives, securing elected representative”. This process provide opportunity for candidates and their political parties to canvas for voters in the political market. In a way to win more votes, political parties and their candidates engage in political marketing. Gaining support from the voters in electoral campaign, call for political marketing. Thus political marketing is the engagement of marketing strategies to sell the party and its candidates to the people.
In a way to canvas for more votes the need to use political marketing came up recently in political environment. According To Sudha (2008:22) “ Political marketing is a relatively new terminology in mainstream political science literature”. The emergence of political marketing brought about innovation and creativity in campaign for supporters. The factor that promoted political marketing is the concept of competition. Politically, competition is the order of the day. Sudha (2008:22) went on to define political marketing as “the usage of marketing tools, techniques and methods in political process. In order words, political marketing is the outcome of the marriage between marketing and politics” . According to Hairop in Sudha (2008:23) “political marketing is not just about political advertising, party political broadcast and electoral speeches, but it covers the whole area of party positioning in the electoral market”. Political marketing is a set of political machineries to trace and study public opinion before and during an electoral campaign, to develop campaign communication good for the electorate in changing their behaviour towards supporting the party and assess the impact of the strategies. Okan, Ayper and Serhat (2014:131) “ political marketing is the activities made by political parties to affect voters and is focused on influencing the individuals regarding political candidate, to reach the maximum number of votes. In today’s world, the ideologies lose their importance especially because of the globalization and it causes to differentiate from other political parties to improve different strategies in their election campaigns”. According to Newman (1999), there is a common consensus that political marketing has notable importance in politics. It is extremely important for election, referenda, governing, lobbying, public services management e.t.c they all represent the marketing triumph of an approach that first originated in business and then transformed the nature of modern politics.
Lack and Harris (1996), points out that political marketing is concerned with communication between party members, media and the electorates. According to Henneberg (2004), political marketing application have change from a communication instrument to a coherent way of managing politics, whether it is policy making, election canvassing or exercuting decision. Sudha (2008) “often the phenomenon of image in politics is said to have risen because of television. However, images has almost as many as the number of people who use it, combined concepts from consumer behaviour and political science to create a model of voting, behavior in political marketing terms”.
As marketing in view as tactical issues, Butter and Collins (1996) in Sudha (2008) state the impact of strategy and its importance in governing the direction of the campaign. Harns (2006) concluded, most of the elections markets of the west are mature, the players are established and the position is set”.
Marketing in political environment is on how to reach wider coverage of electorate in their respective location. Having this challenge, the need to use the social media becomes necessary. According to Tell magazine, Facebook have about 1.3 billion users which come 3rd as the world populated country if it is a country. Social media is one of the recent channels which politicians have used to engage the people in political campaign. According to Annie (2011), politician and voters alike use Facebook and Twitter as a means for disclosure, they post photographs, personal information and leave public messages to their friends in cyber space. The benefit of this is that social media removes the barrier between professional and consumer, showing the latter how the former works and allowing the latter to actually contribute immediately to the work of the former. Social media is regarded as a phrase among youth. Social media is a website through which interactive information is generated. It is a group of internet based application that allows the creation and exchange of users generated content.
Waleed and mohd opined that social media has become one of the most important communication means in recent times. However, social networking exists so as to provide communication among people regards of the distance, marketing it open to people easily. Share information, files and pictures and video, create blogs and send messages, and conduct real-time conversation. (http://seminar.utmspace.eud.my/jistri )
The social media sites use by people include social book marketing which is interactive by tagging website and searching through website book marked by others e.g (blink list, simple).
Social news is another social media site that gives users opportunity to interact by voting for articles and commenting on them (digs: propello) next is social networking which is commonly used in interacting by adding friends, commenting on photo and profiles sharing groups for discussion (facebook, 2go, bb chat, whatsapp). Social photos and video sharing gives users opportunity to interact with people by sharing photos or videos and commenting on the user. Submission (youtube and fliki) and wikis enable users interact by adding articles and editing existing articles (Wikipedia, wiki) www.wikipedia freencyclopedia.com) Social media refers to the very means or method of interaction among people in which they create, share, exchange and comment among themselves, in different social networking site.
Social media has become one of the major channel of chatting through platforms such as 2go, bb chat, blogger, whatsapp and wiki. There has been an increase in the mobile social media which has created new opportunity for browsing (www.census.gov). Awaka (feb 2012), “a social network is a website that allows users to share information with a selected group of friends social networking is also a convenient way to share photos from trips to events”
Social network are increasingly gaining momentum in the world of information and communication. It has without doubt altered the conventional method of news gathering and dissemination, a confirmation of what seems to be paradigm shift from print and broadcast media.
Being a new channel in Nigeria political marketing, many electoral candidates in the just concluded general election used the social media for their electoral support. The same was use by Delta State three candidates who are Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, PDP candidate who is the present governor, Chief Great Ogboru, the labour party candidate, and Chief Otega Emarhor for APC. The gubernatorial election was held on April 11th 2015.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
According to Kaplan and Haelein (2010), the attributed challenges in social media usage in political marketing is the disparity in the usage compared to opportunity it avails. This can be attributed to the lack of understanding on how to deal with issues such as negative publicity that can arise from user generated contents, a loss of absolute control of their brand, legal and security issues. In recent times, social media has been used for political marketing in 2015 governorship election in Delta State by politicians, to sell their parties and candidates. The argument for political marketing on social media is that social media lack credibility and trust because many rumours and lies have been witnessed on social media. Being uncensored channel, the content and information are held with little trust as compared to traditional media like radio, television and newspaper.
In addition, some people believed that due to the lack of credibility of social media, stories from aspirants cannot be viewed with trust and accountable as a time in Nigeria when political trust has been retard.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
This study has the overall objective to study the influence of social media on political marketing in 2015 governorship election on the electorate in Ethiope East Local Government Area Of Delta State. Specifically, the objective of the study therefore are:
1. To ascertain the number of electorates that follow politicians on social media in Ethiope East
2. Determine the level of trust electorate have on social media political marketing in Ethiope East.
3. To find out if political marketing on social media affects the electorates voting behavior in Ethiope East.
4. Determine the usefulness of social media to politicians in Ethiope East.
1.4 Research Questions
1. What is the number of electorates that follow politician on social media in Ethiope East?
2. What is the level of trust electorate having on social media political marketing in Ethiope East?
3. Does political marketing on social media affects the electorate voting behavior in Ethiope East?
4. What is the usefulness of social media to politicians in Ethiope East?
1.5 Significance of the Study
This study will largely be beneficial to the media community and relevant to political actors in Nigeria in winning the voting decision of the electorates.
The findings from the study will serve in equipping the political aspirants in winning the electorates through the use of social media.
It will also serve as handy material for reference and encourage the use of social media in political marketing during elections.
1.6 Scope of the Study
In examining the influence of social media in political marketing in 2015 gubernatorial election in Delta State, it will be difficult to study the general election in Nigeria. Hence this study will be restricted to Delta State governorship election in Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta State.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
To reduce the ambiguities and for the benefit of understanding the terms used in this research will now be briefly clarified.
SOCIAL MEDIA: This a social networking sites where members share information and pictures.
ELECTION: A periodic selective exercise where the electorate cast their votes in selection of who will become their leaders.
ELECTORATES: These are people who the politicians market for political support during election.
POLITICAL PARTY: This is a group of politicians with the same political ideology canvassing for voters for their candidates.
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