Do you ever stop to think about how powerful modern day technology is? Nowadays, technology is way more influential and persuasive. Everywhere you look there is some kind of advertisement or promotion being broadcast by the use of technology. The overwhelming use of technology allows people to be influenced and persuaded much more easily. Before, information was either passed along by word of mouth or it took a while for posters and commercials to be produced but now it takes one click of the mouse to spread the word about anything. It takes little to no effort to influence and persuade the people around us.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes influence as the power to change or affect someone or something and it describes persuasion as the act of causing people to do or believe something. Although they may be very similar, they affect people in many different ways. Some people are influenced or persuaded for the better while others are not. One way that these two affect the public is through the use of social media. Social media is a quick and easy way for people all around the world to influence others to believe and do what they do or to like what they like.
Today in America, the political race is the ongoing topic all over social media. Many people believe that the party they support is the best and the candidate they like is the best so they use social media to persuade those around them the best they can. It is all about who has the better advertisement and who appeals to the majority of the people. The influential side of social media has affected the political race in many different ways as far as which party in the better party, which candidate is the best to vote for and so on.
There have been many studies done to prove that this is true. One study evidently shows that those who are extremely active with political information in social media have the ability to influence the political attitudes of their online community. Due to the fact that people are becoming more and more attached to social media rather than interpersonal relationships, they are making themselves vulnerable to online political influence and persuasion. Individuals who live through social media have made themselves dependent on information that is provided to them on their select networks.
They also are more likely to trust what they read online rather than what they may hear directly from a political leader first hand. Those who are more likely to generate replies, begin conversations, and distribute information are the main persuaders throughout all media. These persuaders are referred to as “prosumers” which is the combination of producers and consumers. This word choice was chosen because these individuals are supplying user-generated content online while at the same time-consuming information as well.
Researchers believe that if these prosumers continue to use social media as they do then they will eventually begin to engage in politics more and more. After a while, these social media prosumers will acknowledge themselves as actual opinion leaders. An online leader is described as someone who is engaging in larger levels of media exposure and tends to hold a greater position in social networks. Opinion leaders indirectly have an advantage over their fellow network followers. For example, if an opinion leader were to tweet or post something on Facebook it would be retweeted or shared a lot faster and more often then if a non-leader did so.
This is because the items they post may seem more influential to someone than the post that comes from a non-leader in media. Prosumers contribute the rate of responses and reactions to their post as them being social influences. This rate is also contributed by their personal motivation to be seen as an opinion leader and their yearning to persuade others (3). Therefore, this makes opinion leaders more inclined to discuss the political matter because they can persuade others to agree with what they believe to be true regarding politics.
These leaders attempt to make their social media followers think the way they do about political parties, political candidates and just politics in general. They want others to believe what they say is politically correct and that any other information they may read on the Internet is wrong. The mentioned opinion leaders are technically prosumers who are producing, consuming, and sharing political news through the use of social media. After a thorough study was completed it proved the point of social media and prosumers being very persuasive when political information is regarded.
The research showed that opinion leaders are indeed capable of persuading people to vote a certain way due to the number of people they interact with, content they read, and sharing of news they do in social media. The main issue that holds true with this study is the fact that individuals often believe anything and everything they read on social networks even if the information is clearly false. Because people tend to believe everything they read online it allows for social opinion leaders to be more successful in persuading political opinions.
Overall, this study shows that as social media usage increases then political persuasion will increase because more and more people are using media to influence people to think a certain way about politics. Prosumers will also continue to discuss, share, consume, and produce political information further as well (3). A second study presents evidence that social media can be associated with a pro-democratic political attitude. Social media is described as the potential space of interaction where citizens are simultaneously exposed to news and the views of people in their social network.
While most people use social media only to receive friendly updates, obtain emotional support, or to flip through photos and videos they may also be subject to political persuasion without any knowledge of it. Frequently citizens are influenced by news media and/or social context when forming their own conclusions about politics. Usually political persuasion is achieved through the conversations people have because they can ignite disagreement, which in return leads to someone being influenced to change their views.
The Internet and social media are also considered to be heterogeneous networks for the reason that it is very diverse. This diversity can attribute to the fact that people are shown alternate views on politics, which of course leads to the persuasion of change. Once an individual has been exposed to new viewpoints it boosts their demand for new information that supports their current thoughts and beliefs. Both disagreement and diversity go hand and hand with each other. Such a diverse network can lead to disagreement mong people who believe that their thoughts are true and others are false. The diversity urges people to seek new views and more information, contemplate their own opinions, and conclusively reevaluate their own views (1). There is also evidence that social pressure is associated with political persuasion. The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes peer pressure as a feeling that one must do the same things as other people of one’s age and social group in order to be liked or respected by them. People typically attempt to have the same views as those around them do.
This happens because people want to maintain their relationships with others so they feel the need to change their thoughts to match those of their peers. It is all about becoming a part of and fitting in with the social network one is associated with. Field experiments were done to prove that social pressure increased voter turnouts, influenced political thoughts, and increased the rate of which people participate in the political protest. Due to the fact that people are cautious to what others will think of them on social media, they tend to act and react to things a certain way.
People do not want to come across as rude or arrogant when trying to persuade others to change their views. When people are aware of others views throughout their network they aim to accept them more than those who have no clue what others believe. When they are unaware of others views it sparks disagreement more often or it causes some individuals to change their views altogether without argument (1). Political persuasion can help determine the discussion that takes place within the democratic society.
It can also even lead to democratic consequences such as people’s political views being changed due to the content they encounter while just using social media for personal reasons. The greatest impact that social media has on persuading others are the news that is posted about political viewpoints. Those who are constantly checking social media are more likely to remain updated on current political opinions rather than those who rarely use it. Political opinions can be changed or altered by many different factors; some of those including time spent checking social networks, social pressure and persuasion (1).
A third research study explains how politicians themselves use social media to attract the public to support them. For the most part, individuals that are closely associated with each other in their network are easily influenced because they are able to persuade each other’s thoughts and beliefs. Beliefs can be adjustable and easily subject to change. Thus, in return, these beliefs begin to form decisions. Since beliefs are subject to change and eventually form decisions the probability that an individual can be persuaded is very high.
When it comes to political awareness on certain issues most people do not truly know the facts so they are persuaded to vote one way or another depending on what they hear through social networks. Political politicians are able to give powerful speeches that appeal to their supporters. Theses supporters then use their social network groups to persuade others to support the politician of their choosing. All sides of politics can be subject to persuasion (2). Finding people who have a common interest such as religious, economic, political and social beliefs forms many social network groups.
The groups that are similar rather than different tend to agree on more things and continue to influence each other about political positions. Political parties work the same way in some respects. For example, Democrats gain supporters by affirming civil liberties, redistribution and the right to choose while Republicans use patriotism, tax cuts, and the opposition to abortion. No matter what the belief is each political party is in some way, shape, and form doing what it takes to gain supporters. Politicians will do whatever it takes to gain all the support they can.
In today’s society, it is exceptionally easy to use social media to influence and persuade people to believe just about anything you want them to believe. On the other hand, political parties are using these social network groups to try to break down the opposing party. Some networks, like religion, are attractive to Republicans because they make their beliefs stronger but at the same time they split the Democratic beliefs. Social networks like fair trade do the same for Democrats. People are very vulnerable to social persuasion and it can come about it ways that people did not think were possible (2).
Overall, social media is a large part of today’s society. A majority of the world’s population is adopting and applying social media to their everyday lives. As mentioned before, in today’s society political competition is the up roaring topic over all media. Prosumers, opinion leaders, and ever politicians are taking advantage of the demand for social media by using networks to broadcast their views and beliefs to gain as many supporters as they possibly can. The fact that individuals are capable of believing anything they read online t makes it effortless to persuade and influence their thoughts.
Due to the matter of people being gullible it makes the point of social pressure evidently true as well. People are willing to rearrange and modify their beliefs to match the thoughts of their peers. By individuals modifying their beliefs to match their peers, they are forming social network groups that will continue to persuade others to gain their support as well. Social influence and persuasion are becoming more and more powerful in many different aspects. Eventually, people will be able to persuade others of just about anything.