It seems as if up-and-coming politicians are learning from the mistakes of campaign pasts and making social media an integral part of their communications strategy. Cory Booker, who is not new on the political scene but recently hailed as the Democratic Party’s rising star, uses social media constantly to interact with his followers, and urges government to do the same. Cory Booker is the current mayor of Newark, New Jersey and is gearing up for a U.S. Senate run. He stays in almost perpetual contact with his constituency, replying to their concerns and questions via Twitter as well as posting inspirational quotes and photos. He also uses Twitter to humanize himself with the populace, posting about how much he likes Star Trek. According to Booker, government needs to stop treating Twitter as a announcement forum and more of as place for dynamic exchange.
Social media represents the new frontier of political communication, a further innovation on the written word, the radio, the telephones, and the television. Mitt Romney’s campaign decided not to cultivate the candidate’s social media presence, and his PR suffered accordingly. Future campaigns will no doubt learn from the Romney campaign’s failure and take advantage of social media, but the increasing dissemination social media in politics leads one to question if this level of accessibility to the candidate/elected official is a good thing. Machiavelli denoted the importance of a healthy level of respect for and fear of the official and the office; social media and tweets about one’s penchant for Star Trek certainly mitigates some of the mystique.
Cory Booker and many other young and tech-savvy politicians seem willing to take the risk, making themselves readily available through social media outlets. Only hindsight will reveal the extent of social media’s impact on politics, but for now, it seems like a worthy bet.