One of the most important things about social media in the political realm is that it allows people to connect on a local level. Even when a politician is traveling, they can access social media platforms on their phones and laptops. Even when time is tight, they can quickly send a tweet or share an article via a blog post on the fly. On a local level, the low cost/barrier of entry is a great opportunity for politicians.
This opportunity for direct connections is a brand new concept— one that allows politician and constituent communications like never before.
Josh Sternberg’s 2009 Mashable article How Local Politicians Are Using Social Media gives many great examples of this, with the emphasis that “ultimately, the strongest aspect of social media is the human element.” The power of social media is that it can bring together people who would not otherwise be able to connect, with much less effort and money than other initiatives.
I think that what the Mashable article demonstrates is the importance of being where the people are. Determining the platforms that your audiences use is essential to reach them. Only the very dedicated would actually join a social media platform dedicated to a specific politician or political issue, but if a politician is able to join platforms like Twitter and Facebook where their audiences are already active, they can easily communicate with them.