Social Media Campaigning: It’s About the Conversation

Twitter’s use as a political campaigning tool has been spreading around the globe since President Barack Obama tapped social media on the way to the White House in 2008. Twitter’s role in India’s 2014 elections, in turn, offers a critical lesson for candidates in this year’s U.S. races, says Saifuddin “Saif” Ahmed, a doctoral student in communication.

In a recent study, Ahmed, Associate Professor Jaeho Cho and a colleague in India analyzed nearly 100,000 tweets by 11 political parties in India’s parliamentary election.

Not only were the winners the most active tweeters, they used Twitter to talk with and not at voters, Ahmed said.

“If there is one thing we learned from 2014 Indian election campaigning, it is that politicians have to interact more and not just use the medium as a broadcasting tool.”

— Kathleen Holder, content strategist in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science