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sunday star

FOCUs 27

Young voters
prefer the
human touch
> FROM PAGE 25
amah and see them myself, he
says.
Social marketing expert Anas
Zubedy feels that the political
noise conceals the reality that the
average young person is unaware
of politics and the political leaders.
Anas, who conducted his own
telephone survey, had written
on his blog that his findings
convinced him that the Internet
population would not significantly affect the outcome of the
coming elections.
There are too many distractions out there and politicians
are not seen as cool...as a consequence, the youth just dont
have that drive to fully use the
Internet to catch up on current
affairs, politics in particular, he
concluded.
Social media
observer G. Yeoh
also thinks that
the impact of the
social media will
not be as significant as expected.
I dont think
the majority of voters in
Malaysia have
access to social
media. The urban DAVID LIAN
voters yes, but
not the nonurban voters.
Its simplistic to
claim that just because its the
first time that this tool is being
used and its new. I have seen
in the last GE social media being
used in various ways by young
Malaysians wanting to make a
difference, on their own without
binding themselves to any political faction.
Yeoh observes that while
younger politicians are definitely
revving up their presence on
social media, not all politicians
are using it to their advantage,
which is a shame as it is good as
a direct connection to their constituents.
It really allows for people to
get in touch with them directly.
Its nice to be able to tweet with
your MP because too often they
are placed up on the pedestal. Its
nice to know that politicians are
human too.
Ironically, he points out, that is
the key the human touch.
He says it does not work when
the politicians falsely inflate the
number of followers, get their
assistants to tweet for them or
worse, not tweet at all.
That is why politicians like
Khairy Jamaluddin, Tony Pua,
Abdul Rahman Dahlan, Nurul
Izzah and Saifuddin Abdullah
have many followers, he says.
They tweet themselves and
the tweets are real. And sometimes they make mistakes too.
People can tell when another
person is real. People dont follow each other on Twitter or
Facebook just so they can consume the same old messages
churned out by strategists.

Crucially, it should not be used


for trolling their critics.
Social media is a tool of communication, not a tool to hide
behind and to attack your imagined enemies.
For many of his peers, the
number of followers or likes is
just that, a number.
As a young voter, Yeoh says, he
expects his leader to be honest
and real.
Its not a popularity contest.
They can claim to have millions
of followers or likes on Facebook
all they want, but without interaction, those are just numbers.
In contrast, digital culture commentator Niki Cheong feels that
the numbers do matter.
It is embarrassing for a senior
politician to have, say, only 3,000
followers on Twitter. It gives a
perception that
you are not
relevant.
Politicians
need to find
what works for
them, he says,
and to just do
it! on their
social media
accounts.
You need to
be constantly
engaging with
the people.
What many
do not realise
is that it is a
community, so you need to be
living in it. The easiest way is
for politicians to make it a part of
their lives too, not just a planned
campaigning tool.
As a politician, everything
you say and do is being recorded,
so why not put it out yourself.
Instead of just putting your photographs and videos out, you
can highlight your meetings,
other programmes and activities
online, says Cheong.
Social media expert David Lian
concurs.
As the 2008 elections demonstrated, he notes, social media
could be used as an effective
communications tool and its
good that many politicians have
become more engaged on social
media.
However, he stresses, it should
be a two-way communication.
Id challenge politicians to
stop thinking of just using social
media for campaigning purposes,
but to genuinely engage their
constituents. Social media is a
fantastic platform to really get
closer to the rakyats needs and
to foster a healthy dialogue about
our communitys issues today. It
shouldnt be relegated merely to
another propaganda channel. If
used as a one-way street, social
media users are quick to turn off
and tune out.
Stresses Lian, young people
today expect action and integrity
from their political leaders, Ive
seen these issues consistently
highlighted by young people on
social media and it would do
politicians well to listen.

If used as
a one-way
street,
social
media
users are quick to
turn off and tune
out.

31 March 2013