The use of social networking sites
utilization in politics is obviously continued to grow in recent times.
Since Barack Obama broke the world record in the history of social
networks use for political purpose during the 2008 US presidential
elections, many nations and politicians across the globe have continued
to embrace the platform to mobilize their citizens and shape candidates
preference on candidate and towards active participation in the
political process. This study examines the impact of social networking
sites on voters’ preference on the 2015 presidential elections. The
study was anchored on the agenda setting theory that shows that
information posted on social networking sites plays a vital role in
shaping people’s perception on topics. The survey research method was
used to generate data for this research work. Findings show that social
networking sites play a vital role on voters’ preference. The study
recommended that political parties should utilize the social networking
sites in the subsequent elections in Nigeria and see it as an avenue to
generate more votes
1.0 CHAPTER ONE
The advert of internet and technology
has exposed majority of the global population to different interactive
platforms on which different type of information is exchanged which
might significantly have effect on human behavior, decision and
judgment. No doubt, one of the most remarkable developments in the last
century is the internet. This information super-high way has continued
to revolutionalize the way and manner information is shared in countries
and across international boundaries. Recent development in the world of
information captured by Bawa (2009:7) states that:
Communication has completely been
revlutionaized. Today, communication as we know it is becoming more and
more wireless. Communication between people across the world is now
instant and comes across several platforms. Whether it is on social
networking sites: Youtube, Facebook, Instagrams, blogs, twitter or
through voice over protocols, the facts remains that the internet and
its features has completely changed and continues to change the
communication landscape forever.
Baran (2009) supported the above
assertion and opined that it is not an overstatement to say that the
internet often referred to as the worldwide web, has changed the world,
not to mention the other mass medias. Agbo (2015) added that in addition
to being a powerful communication media, the internet is at the center
of virtually all media convergence we see around.
Bittner (1989) explained that the
internet employs a set of standard protocol to create an effective way
for people to communicate and share data with each other. It also serves
as a link of several high speed computer networks all over the world
which allows users to share resources and communicate effectively.
Bansal, (2007) added more on the internet that the internet represents
one of the most successful example of the benefits of sustained
investment and commitment into research and development in the technical
field of information processing, retrieval and distribution.
The internet’s superiority over all
other forms of information technology rest on its ability to reach four
corners of the each instantly and give way to achieve possible exchange
of information especially in most of the developed nation (Agbo 2015).
The origin of the internet can be traced back to US Department of
Defense usage of its as a way to protect government communication in the
event of a military strike which was started as APRANET network in
Capron (1996:6) sited that the US
military created the APRANET network in 1970 to scatter their computer
so that no single nuclear bomb could wipe out their computing capacity.
APRANET’s popularity continued to spread among researchers especially
tertiary institution and libraries and in 1980’s the National Science
Foundation, whose NSF Net linked several high speed computers, took
charge of what had become now the internet.
It is this singular features that made
communication scholars like Capron (1996:6) to describe the internet as
“a loosely organized collection of networks for it has no central
offered service and no online index to tell you what information is
available”. He further said that the great attraction of the internet
users is that once they have paid a signed up fee regardless of any
inbuilt extra charges, subscribers seemed to have unhindered access to
large amount of information. However as time went by, many people wanted
to put their ideas into the ARPANET.
The growth of the internet continued in
popularity and earlier studies indicated that users had little trouble
verbalizing their needs when using the internet. To this end, Dominic
(2009) suggested that people consciously choose the medium that could
best satisfy their needs and those audiences are able to recognize their
reason for making media choices.
Akinfeleye (2011), states that the
internet has given birth to a number of communication platforms where
users freely exchange all kind of information. An aspects of these
communication platform that has informed this study is what scholars of
communication called social network and they consists of Facebook,
Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin etc. Sutein (2009) sited that social
networking sites are new information network and information technology
using a form of communication utilization interactive and user produce
content and interpersonal relationships are created and maintained.
Pakhare (2011) believed that the emergence of the internet as the new mass medium of the 21st
century now changes the mass media substantially. Information can be
distributed at high speed, low cost and broad scope and as a result
there is egalitarian access to the production and the consumption of
news. Today’s social networking sites have made the world a “global
village” (Just like Marshall McLuhan predicted) where what happens in
one part of the world is known instantly and simultaneously around the
world. That is the quick transfer of information overriding the
challenges of time and distance (Friedman, 2007). Social networking
sites have gradually become one of the most important means of
influencing the society and this influence is based exclusively on its
social aspect of interaction and participation.
Spierings and Kristof (2010) stated that
as social networking site gain more popularity and scope, its impacts
on voters political and cultural perceptions cannot be underestimated as
social networks sites practically influence the way users interacts,
communicate and make decisions on social, cultural and political issues
on today’s world.
Thus, in the last decade or so, the
potentials of the social networks sites in terms of its ability to link
directly to targeted audience have continued to attract patronage from
several quarters, one of such quarters is politics. Farwa and Hamdar
(2008) remarked that politics and her patrons have suddenly realized
that the beautiful bride is the social networking site. In
pre-television era, politics, campaign researcher indicated that the
mass media had minimal effect on voters. In the last decade, that is the
post-television era, the mass media were recognized as major component
of politics and political campaigns depends heavily on both electronic
and print media. However, the internet via its multi social networking
sites is providing modern and instantaneous approach to political
campaigns (Farha and Hamdar, 2008).
In a nutshell, social networks site are
Medias that are used basically for social interactions, using highly
accessible and sealable communication techniques. Okoli (2011) observed
that social networking sites have the potential to facilitate social
capital more than could be previously imagined. Beyond new and current
imagination on associations, these sites allow people to reach and
re-establish old relationship. Those who remember the days before these
site will recall lost high school acquaintances and forgotten business
associates for generations.com” there is no such thing: no friend is
Caprini, (2000) found that while most
connections are made between people that have (or had) a real world
relationship many on these sites are “friends” with people whom they met
via the social networks. Despite not actually met in the outside world,
many have developed meaningful relationships. Because these sites
allows users to search for an established group with other people that
has similar interest (regardless of the geographical location), these
connection have the potential to inspire social and civic activity in
ways that are new and exciting. These sites makes it possible to send
and receive information between individuals who otherwise would not have
the opportunity or ability to do so.
Social networking site have strong
advantage over other traditional medias of being brief, instantaneous
and fast to impact the intended message on the mind of the users. (David
et al, 2002) social networking site is not new in Nigeria or across the
world with the widespread adoption of communication gadget like
personal computer and phones in the mid 90’s. Services such as chatroom,
news group and instant messages (Yahoo, my space etc.) were among the
early attraction for users of the worldwide web and social networks.
What is new however is the attention that is given to expanding form of
social media – facebookk, instagram and twitter – as a means of not only
creating virtual community but as a way of instantly communicating and
moving calls for action to this communities (social networking sites).
Plutzer (2002) recorded that gone are
the days when message on this sites are considered trivial, providing a
means of other marketing to targeted groups or posting statements
describing ordinary person activities. In late 2006 when Twitter was
introduced and launched, its creator stated that the purpose of “tweets”
was to tell your friends (followers) what your are doing (Anderson,
2008). However, social networking sites in the second decade of the 21st century is used not just for frivolity reasons, but for serious social and political messaging.
In terms of political activities, Shashi
(2011) noted that the social networks comprising mainly of Facebook,
Twitter, Blogs, Instagram, Linkedin, Hunch, Myspace and others is
becoming more common as politicians realize it is convenient way to
connect with their constitutents. Through social networks, this days
politicians makes statements, open remarks and even as specific
questions. This is addition to also responding to questions asked by
members of his constituents.
In the latest phase of politics
(especially Nigeria) it will take at least a second look at the
political space in Nigeria to realize something has changed. A space
that was all about the power brokers and media moguls has become so
deregulated that one could consi8der it the freest space in Nigeria
right now (Sunstein 2001). It is one of many tools helping to amplify
the voice of average Nigerians, taking ordinary voice and making them
extraordinary by bringing them to homes, offices and places where most
politicians and parties would never had reached under different
Ansolabehere and Iyonger (1995) claim
that social networking sites started as a playground for mostly young
and jobless people. But today these social network sites has become a
battle ground of what was arguably be the most competitive election in
the Nigeria history. The 2015 presidential election no doubt witnessed
the remarkable use of social media sites and the impact as a political
communication tools in Nigeria in a bid to shape the voters preferences
and choice towards the parties and candidates.
In Nigeria, the social media sites has
hugely redefined the method of political communications and campaign
leading to a significant shift towards the social networking site usage
in the electoral process unlike previous times where the network
television and newspaper dominate the coverage of election / political
campaigns and information. In other nations presidential election that
benefitted from these medias (SNS) is the US, UK and other developed
countries. President Obama achieve a great success with the use and
adoption of social networks. Swaine (2010) cited the current British
Prime Minister, David Cameroon setting up a page that attracted over
19,000 supporters within days and even the brief foray on twitter by the
formal P.M, Gorden Brown as perfect example of the rising tide on the
use of social networking site in politics. Positive energy (2010:1)
concludes on the emerging potentials of the social network in political
The game is changing fast. Any political
consultant (new media or social networking consultant) who knows his /
her onion must have a complete grasp of the potentials of the social
media. These media include Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Red
State, Cafemoon, Bedo,Bladeplanet, Instagrams, Linkedin, Del.iciou.us,
Dig, Reddit, Furl, Stumbleupon and Mix. These media will impact the
election in selling a bill for the goods. But they already are having a
Inspite of the absence and decay in
available infrastructure, emerging economics like Nigeria seem to be
catching the ‘bug’ of this latest social network sites campaign
phenomenon. Soriwes and Fabiyi (2010) reported that formal president
Goodluck Jonathan embraced the social networking site when he setup and
even announced his presidential ambition on Facebook, a popular social
networking site – others followed.
Olumo (2014) stated that the main
opposition party of the “government in power (before the presidential
election in 2015), the All Progressive Congress would be considered as
the most beneficial of the values that social networking site brought to
the table. Long before the merging of parties to form APC in February
2013, Olumo (2014) stated that there have been different congregation on
social networks sites like Facebook, Twitter and instagram to express
their anger against the government activities.
Supporting the above statement, Fashanun
(2013) stated that in April 2010, there was the “enough is enough”
protest to campaign for the then vice president Goodluck Jonathan to be
made the acting president after the death of the president Umaru
Yar’Adua. A move that eventually led to the “doctrine of necessity” that
got National Assembly to name Jonathan the acting president. Among
others political protest on social network site is the “occupy Nigeria”.
These impacts has been a strong reason
for political parties to take advantage of the power of social
networking sites. Thereby posting large campaign messages on these
sites. Ikhariale (2014) revealed that; politicians have seen and felt
the power of social networking site and have latched on it with
considerable zeal. Others supporting this view is Oseni (2014). A
tremendous change has occurred in the Nigerian Political process and it
is the rise of social networking sites for political usage.
With 65% of voters consisting of ages of
18-34 in Nigeria and being active social networking sites users, many
campaign workers used the social networks as a significant tool in
enciting the young demographic to go to the polls and cast their vote.
Thereby using the social media change preferences of the voters on these
sites Gift (2013). The growing presence and popularity of political
parties and various political figures on social networks is evidence
that political parties are “approaching and speaking to the youth and
young people of Nigeria at their level.
In a study done by Brown, (2013)
revealed that the APC clamor and solicit for votes with a catchy phrase
“change” all over the social network sites and it serves as an icon for
hope and identification of the party candidates. The move which paid off
well for them as it sink in the mind of both old and young giving them
reason to change party and power. This also brought to the fore the
important of social networking sites in political strategy as the social
networking site usage is fully awakened.
However, Olumo (2014) stated that social
networking site is based on the psychology of social behavior and not
the technology in itself. Social networks are all about people and
building relationships with them and this allows a platform that create a
behavioural pattern or “meme” to take hold and spread rapidly online,
this makes the social networking site a viable tool to create awareness
for a political brand.
The objective of any political campaign
may be basically divided into two. The being to build a political
relationship and foster trust between the electorate and the candidate
and secondly for the electorate to cast their vote for the candidate
after a relationship and trust have been established (Ifukor 2010). The
honesty, competence, trustworthy and vision of a political brands needs
to be perceived by the electorate for this relationship to be
established and all this can be through the social networks as it allows
transparency between the electorate and the candidate.
Social networking sites messages are
persuasive and ubiquitous. It is important for all politician to
understand it and leverage it in order to gain public acceptance and
interact with voters so as to get their opinion and views about various
policies of government. The use of the social networking sites as a
campaign strategy in the 2015 presidential election was not only
important, it is crucial as millions of people are involved in using
social networking sites daily especially the youth who have before the
social networks age boycott elections in Nigeria. Social networks sites
enable politician to be opportune to be in touch with large numbers of
voters quickly constantly and at a low cost compared with other forms
campaign (Fashahun, 2013).
Social network sites enable politicians
to create interesting post to try to engage followers, similar to the
tactics employed by a brand or media company. This according to Soriwei
and Fabiyi (2010) is an indication that the Nigeria political landscape
is beginning to embrace social networks and its potentials in terms of
reaching would be voters and the Nigerian populace in general.
Prominent politicians have engage in the social media sites to
facilitate online campaign and the likes include; Muhammadu Buhari,
Atiku Abubakar, Ibrahim Babangida, Olushola Saraki, Hammed Tinubu and
As evidence by the recent 2015
presidential elections, in Nigeria, political parties especially the two
dominant party (People Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressive
Congress (APC)) utilized social networking site such as online
networking sites, blogs, internet newspapers, news ads, etc. to campaign
and mobilize also to change not only the youths preferences on their
political view and choice but all the class of social networking site to
vote them. This brought about a variety of interesting news and drama
online in terms of propaganda and provide opportunity for users to read,
responds, interact, argue and trashout issues online Oseni (2014).
Oseni 2014 stated that SNS like
Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Instagram and online newspaper has become
political platforms for people to voice their thought on various issues
concerning the candidates and sway others towards their line of thinking
with various debates, hashtags and numerous online campaign. This
brought Nigerians together irrespective of political divide, ethnicity
and religion on national issues.
Not only to social networking site
provide information about political affiliations, candidates and their
party manifestos, it also provides a platform through which voters
across cultural divides can relate and interact with themselves on
issues about these candidate and their parties. This is why nearly every
political party in the country uses SNSs to campaign and advance it
plans, message and manifestos to supporters through advertising,
mobilization and organisation in all the sate of the federation (Prat
and Stromberg, 2011).
The major SNS like Facebook, Twitter,
Youtube and Instagram were used to let known to voters how each party or
particular candidate felt about a particular issue of national interest
and how it can be tackled. Hence, social media became powerful enough
to influence voters preferences as many voters who had fixed their minds
and conscience on voting a particular party or candidate begins to
change his/her mind base on certain trend, ideas or particular
information they got from these SNS about the party or candidate.
Information gotten by one voters was also not static, as same voters
would use several internet tools and bottons to broadcast same message
to their followers or other voters through many and various SNS in other
to influence their followers preferences.
1.2 Problems of Study
The use of emotional appeals in
political campaign to increase support for a candidate or decrease
support for a challenger is a widely recognized practice and a common
element of any campaign strategy, (Brade, 2006). Campaigns often seek to
instill positive emotion such as zeal and hopefulness about their
candidate to improve and encourage turnout and political activism while
seeking to raise fear and anxiety about the opposition. Zeal tends to
reinforce preference for the candidate and party, while fear and anxiety
interrupt voters’ behavioral pattern and lead individual voters to look
for new source of information on divergent political issues (Marcus,
Pinto and Forsth, 2001).
Sources of information available to a
voter vary widely including the tradition media, TV, radio and
newspaper. However, with the advent of social networking site forums,
most voters can access information, debate on the information and also
give feedback on his own views, opinion and expectation from the party
and the candidate.
Although the social networking sites
have helped in the just concluded elections in Nigeria, Nigerian
politicians used social networking sites extensively for their campaign.
In the gubernatorial, presidential and national House of Assembly
elections SNS was used freely among various parties (Agbo, 2015). The
question here now is did the various campaign on the SNS platforms
affect voters preferences? To what extent did the social networking
sites influence campaigns on the presidential election? What factors
contributed to the voters’ candidate choice in the presidential
1.3 Objective of Study
The main objective of the study was to
examine political campaigns targeting voters via social network site and
how it affects voters’ preference. An analysis of 2015 presidential
election with specific emphasis on voters in Bida, Niger State.
The Study is Specifically sought to:
i. Ascertain the rate of social networking site usage.
ii. To discover if social networking site have any impact on voters preference
iv. To discover the lapses in the
use of social networking sites for political participation and
mobilization in the 2015 presidential election in Nigeria
1.4 Research Questions
The general objective of this study is
to ascertain the impact of social networking site on voters preferences
in the 2015 presidential election in Bida, Niger State. The specific
questions for this research are:
i. What is the rate of social networking site usage?
ii. Do social networking site have any impact on voters preference?
iv. What are the lapses in the
use of social networking sites for political participation and
mobilization in the 2015 presidential election in Nigeria?
1.5 Significance of the Study
This study will help beam the search
light on the impact of social networking site on voters preferences, how
the social media influence voters decisions on the party, candidate and
the election in general based ont eh information they got on social
This study will help stakeholders
understand that maintaining a good and healthy profile online with a
cordial relationship between the party and the voters can positively
influence voters’ preference. Lastly, this research work will add to the
body of knowledge on the already existing scholarly materials on the
impact of social networking site on voters’ preference.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study is restricted to voters in
Bida, Niger State and emphasis will be laid mostly on the people of Bida
community but it is assumed that in Nigeria generally, voters similar
characteristics in their choice of social networking site usage like
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Blogs, YouTube on the presidential,
Gubernatorial and National Assembly elections. Base on this assumption
the result of the finding could be generalized.
1.7 Limitations of the Study
The major limitation of this study is
the fact that this research work is retricted to social networking site
users only. And due to the limited time frame during the course of
carrying out this research, the researcher was limited to voters in
Bida, Niger State who are on social networking sites due to some
Insufficient finance: For
a research work of this nature, it will be good for the research when
the samples are from the whole state of the Federation. But due to the
financial constraint the researcher is limited to the voters in Bida.
The researcher has limited time frame in carrying out this topic which
may or is insufficient due to time of administration of questionnaire
and the research as a whole.
1.8 Definition of Terms
Voters: People who have attained the voting requirement in terms of age and has the right to vote for a candidate in an election.
Social Networking Site: These are online platform that allows users to create a public profile and internet with other users on the website.
Voters Preference: This refers to voters choice of political candidate in Nigeria’s 2015 presidential election.
formal process of selecting a public acceptable person for office or of
accepting or rejecting a political position by voting.
Campaign: It’s an organized effort which seeks to influence the decision making process within a specific group of people.