Social media is gradually becoming an important platform for disseminating information to several groups and individuals, as well as an effective tool in political communication. Hendricks and Denton (2010) argue that President Barack Obama‟s 2008 campaign was the first presidential campaign in which the new media was effectively utilised in a political campaign to reach out to the electorates and the main reason why Barack Obama was successfully elected into the highest office of the land (White House, 2008).Social networking sites (SNS) like Facebook have provided a convenient and affordable means of disseminating information in the political arena. In modern democracies, political parties have used these social media platforms to spread their political ideology, raise funds for campaigns and sometimes for activism (Shen, 2013).
After the 2008 US elections, political social media profiles have become an essential component in the communication strategies of many political candidates worldwide (Sheldon, 2008). The functional theory of political campaign discourse has widely been used in analyzing the contents of political campaigns in many regions (Mosier, 2013; Trammell, 2006). This study examined how the presidential candidates of the two main political parties
(NDC and NPP) nina‟Gs ha 2012 general elections, namely John Dramani Mahama and Nana
Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo used Facebook through the perspective of the functional theory.
Social media as a channel for communication is becoming very critical and indispensable to political communication in the 21st century in terms of its use as a tool for political campaign and activism (Gustafson, 2012). Functions of social media platforms include online features such as interactivity, quick updates and multimedia (Kaid& Holtz-Bacha, 2008). Pavlik and McIntosh (2011) argue that social media, just like other traditional channels of mass communication, play four crucial roles in democracy, namely, surveillance(giving information that concerns pertinent issues in society); correlation(giving meaning to events and issues to help individuals gain a contextual understanding); cultural transmission (passing on of culture from one generation to another and moulding others to fit into a society); and entertainment (Pavlik & McIntosh, 2011; Bokor, 2013).
Dimitrova and Bystrom (2013) observe that since the inception of the internet and social media in the mid- 90s, there has been a transformation in political discourse and that social media has revolutionised political communication. Some scholars agree that the use of social media for political purposes had a positive impact on the probability of voting in the 1996 and 2000 US presidential elections, because it became an incentive to traditionally apathetic voters to participate in the events (Tolbert & McNeal, 2003; Hebshie, Sikanku & O‟gara, 2008). A recent study in Germany posits that there is a positive relationship between access to internet and voter participation, so candidates who effectively employ social media, hold an electoral edge over their opponents (Czernich, 2012).
Social media, a subset of the new media, can shape our understanding of issues and events due to its viral and interactive nature. Social media platforms provide a new form of mediated communication that gives the audience access to on demand content and the privilege to
share and engage in discussion with others (Levy, 2008). With these attributes of social media, information travels faster on social media than the traditional media. Over the past few decades, computer-mediated communication has largely been an important part of the integrated communication plans of campaigns worldwide and has moved from being a surplus requirement to a necessity (Walther, 2010). Bentivegna (2002) argues than SNS were earmarked a promising phenomenon in political elections in the build-up to the 2000 U.S. Presidential campaign
However, the use of social media in the arena of political communication meteorically rose during and after the 2008 US presidential election (Woolley, Limperos & Oliver, 2010).Since then, the useof the new media in political campaigns has been adopted by many politicians and it is gradually usurping the role of the traditional media in politics
(Williams&Gulati, 2012).Out of the numerous SNS, scholars argue that Facebook has been the most prominent SNS in political campaigns worldwide (Pavlik &McIntosh, 2011).Even though Facebook is essentially a social networking site that allows users to present a range of user-to-user information about themselves via a technology mediated communication, the effective use of Facebook during the 2008 presidential election showed that it was a potent tool for political communication (Farquhar, 2009; Woolley et al., 2010). Additionally, the presence of politicians on Facebook provides individuals with the sense that direct communication can be achieved with the politicians and also demystifies the perceived pomposity of politicians (Steenkamp &Hyde-Clarke, 2014). In the 2012 elections, majority of the Ghanaian presidential candidates utilized Facebook disseminating their campaign messages.
- 1.Your Full name
- 2. Your Active Email Address
- 3. Your Phone Number
- 4. Amount Paid
- 5. Project Topic
- 6. Location you made payment from