Social Media: A Potentially Powerful Political Tool in the Philippines
Much was made of the pro-Trillanes websites during his second failed attempt to oust President GMA (see Who are the People Behind the Pro-Trillanes Websites?).
We at Technograph won’t attempt to comprehensively explain the reasons behind Trillanes’ failure. It’s clear however that Trillanes’ online message was a largely irrelevant novelty (oh, so Filipino wannabe revolutionaries now have websites?), which mirrored his offline campaign’s lack of impact on the Filipino people.
The Potential of Social Media
Thanks to blogs, forums, and social networking websites like Friendster, a large part of the Internet is composed of individual thoughts, opinions, and perspectives. Sometimes these can be grouped into a consensus that define the general sentiment in any online community.
The platforms where people contribute to a discussion to eventually create a “shared meaning” are what some tech-heads like to call “social media”. Marketers are beginning to realize that, by participating in such online interactions, they can exercise a limited control over what their target market thinks, by influencing somewhat the composition of the community consensus.
The Political Potential of Social Media
If businesses attempt to use social media to affect the consumer’s impression of a product or service, activists and politicians do so to shape the impact of a particular concept or idea. In the case of some anti-GMA advocates, the idea is that the current Philippine President is bad, and needs to resign or be removed from office as soon as possible.
By actively reaching out to online communities, joining the conversation and try to make their objectives seem reasonable—to tell their side of the story so to speak—these political agents could perceivably be more effective in influencing people towards their side. The strength of social media is that it places emphasis on personal interactions; striving for relevancy in online discussions is definitely a better way to attract attention than the blind broadcasting that characterizes “traditional” media.
That’s because the potential recipients of the message are more likely to notice a campaign that adjusts to their needs, instead of one that attempts to forcefully call for attention.
The Potential Success of Social Media in the Philippine Political Landscape
The point is that, if the online agents of Trillanes were more active, by vigorously reaching out to their “target market” and trying their best to make the message relevant to them, they might have gained more useful attention.
If they did a better job of compiling the case for GMA’s resignation or impeachment, and actively explained it in clear and specific terms to make it relevant to their desired audience, then maybe their websites might have made a genuine impact on an online society that is admittedly tired of quick-fix solutions to political problems.
There are surprisingly many opportunities in the Philippines to do this. We only have to look at locally popular websites like Friendster and Multiply, both of which allow users to publicize their perspective and influence the community consensus. They are also perfect places to promote the numerous anti-GMA content found online.
Local political activists who take the time to learn how to properly promote a message on the local online world will have the inside track. They will probably know how to maximize any presence online through participation in social media platforms—and turn online conversations into concrete offline action.
This entry was posted on Sunday, May 18th, 2008 at 9:45 am and is filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.