Thursday, March 25, 2010

RESPONSE BLOG #2: Can Presidential Candidates in the Philippines Rely on Social Media to Win?

The festive atmosphere during Philippine election campaign is at its peak. Candidates are busy doing campaign staples such as song-and-dance numbers, baby hugs, TV appearances, autograph signing and photo opportunities to earn more vote on May 10th election day. Many of the presidential candidates are also channeling their inner Barrack Obama with the use of social media to win a presidential election. All of the 10 presidential candidates and their running mates are online selling their platform and personalities on popular social networking sites such as Facebook, Friendster, Multiply, Twitter and Youtube.

Top leading candidate Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino has nine interactive websites, 880,000+ fans on his Facebook and over 38,000 followers on Twitter. Closely behind is Manny Villar who has about 8 campaign websites, 835,000+ fans of Facebook and only 2,000 followers on Twitter. Both are working hard in showing transparency and approachability with personal tweets and messages to inform and connect with their target constituents.

However Im skeptical with Filipino blogger and social media specialist Carlo Ople when he concluded, "Social Media is a gamechanger. It can be a factor that will lead to votes and will cement the victory of a candidate if used properly." Can presidential candidates in the Philippines rely on social media to win the presidency?

According to a 2009 study by AC Nielsen and Yahoo only 28% of 35 million Filipinos living in urban areas have internet access. Of those online, only 20% are in the voting age of 20-29 years and majority are mostly underage or ineligible voters, 10-19 years.

The effectiveness of social media to convert Filipino fans and followers into votes and catapult a presidential candidate to victory is still yet to be seen. The Philippines limited internet access is an obstacle to see the full potential of this virtual medium as a major campaign tool in the country. Television and radio continues to dominate as the country’s main media channel- with an estimated 90% of Filipino households owning a television set and a radio. In the meantime candidates will just have to channel not Barrack Obama but their inner old school politician with the use of popular TV/movie celebrity endorsers to win a national election.

(Adapted from 100araw)

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