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The mechanism and purpose of political communication in social networks: the attempt to establish horizontal communication with the population
Material posted: Publication date: 04-02-2013

The last 5 years, the majority of politicians, organizations and parties actively create their own pages in the most popular global and national social networks, based on the fact that they want to gradually move away from the traditional vertical model of communication with the people by going to the horizontal so that the society had the opportunity to be informed, to discuss, to give their assessment of current political processes and the activities they are, in principle, and involves communication between the government and the people in the democratic form of government.

Thus, due to a progressive global means of communication that is the Internet, in their opinion, must come from an active civil position on various issues, to develop political culture of the country.

Until recently it was a well-established pattern: the government was often seen as a faceless bureaucracy that are beyond the reach of people that he controls. This led to misunderstanding and mistrust on the part of society to their own power. Therefore, as in business, where corporations began to appear specially trained staff responsible for promoting the company in the market with the help of PR instruments, policies, parties, and entire structural governmental organizations have started to hire people whose responsibilities include creating pages on social networks specifically for them in order to inform on progress, discuss draft laws, monitoring of views on various issues, communicating directly with voters, and in General for the sake of having a presence in all possible modern sources of information, including in the most popular social networks.

More mastering the Internet, choose policy at a high level have learned to use all the functions and features of networks and replaced the original official to personal, which sometimes began to share the events of his personal life, to speak on a variety of topics, including those unrelated to politics. Thus, demonstrating in all ways striving to be as close as possible to the people, through "likes" and comments with approvals to acquire support from many potential voters[1].

In addition to politicians a large number of people gets their accounts in social networks, sometimes several, using fictitious names, becoming ideological community leaders, to Express their citizenship or public protests. So the video, put the visitors on a video hosting "Youtube" be evidence of political scandals, corruption in the highest power structures, police brutality during mass protests, etc. So this subject of filtering access to any information makes everyone in the modern world more worried about what is happening around.

In addition, such traditional sources of information like television, radio, Newspapers and magazines have to answer to advertisers, shareholders, the editorial boards for the news covered these events, over the boundaries of permissibility is said and shown, it violates the impartiality of providing information and its accuracy. Again in this case on the foreground there is a social networking and blogs, where the same professional journalists are not restricted in the choice of priority themes and are less constrained in expressing their own. So, on the web the most popular Internet journalists are Anton Nosik, Dmitry Bykov, Oleg Kashin, of which there are tens of thousands subscribing to their pages in social networks.

Many prominent journalists have also included a "Timeline"[2] in their accounts on "Facebook", and along with the subscribe feature. Some of them are already hundreds of thousands of subscribers. More than 90 journalists from The Washington Post and more than 50 of The New York Times have made their profiles available to subscribers.

Many users can quickly collect subscribers on "Facebook" than "followers" in Twitter. In the study of a sample of 25 journalists found that, on average, since November 2011 the number of subscribers in the "Facebook" journalists have increased by 320%.

Unlike journalists, politicians, high-ranking officials, despite the existing right to have their own subjective opinions, must be extremely careful in the expression on their online pages, as this can lead to unpredictable reactions not only from the local population, but also from other governments and the global community in General, when it comes to topics such as: ethnic strife, ethnic conflict, terrorism, religion, sexual orientation. At best, the worker will have to apologize publicly and to refer, for example, on an incorrect interpretation of his statements, at worst to respond in accordance with the law, if you have hurt someone else's rights or religious feelings often adherents of different faiths. In the framework of increasingly rapid rate the speed of world globalization, which is accompanied with the identity of its tolerance for "different", and more specifically - to other people's way of life, behavior, strange customs, feelings, beliefs, opinions, ideas, ordinary citizens, first and foremost, politicians must not provoke interethnic, interconfessional or interreligious conflicts, but rather to strengthen in society the idea of universal tolerance, enshrined in the Declaration of principles of tolerance of UNESCO in 1995 "which is manifested in the right of all individuals of civil society to be sustainable harmony between confessions, political, ethnic and other social groups, respecting the diversity of different world cultures, civilizations and peoples willingness to understand and cooperate with people differing in appearance, language, beliefs, customs, and beliefs"[3].

Let us consider the mechanism of active involvement and track visitors social media pages of political figures and organizations, departments, ministries etc.

Check any page in a social network begins by specifying the e-mail, password, first name, last name and year of birth. How full to load personal information is the independent choice of each individual.

A profile on a social network, being the most formalized and informative, is, in fact, some analogy of the dossier on the person, the dossier is on the person himself or by specially created team in the case of politicians. The profile is something much extended summary in which informal and in detail to tell about myself very much.

People should not feel that communicates with an electronic machine, but rather gave rise to a sense of personal communication, politicians as well as ordinary users of the Internet networks it is preferable to upload several of your own photos, don't forget to put profilowe the title of the photo, which originally sees people coming to the page. To generate interest and trust in people, many politicians, further indicate his main Hobbies, the most interesting facts and exciting stories from the life. Then you can start posting on your wall statuses, videos, photos, statistical data, etc. Thus, people that visit this page, you can mark as "like" any information appearing on the walls of politicians, to comment on it, including using links to other Internet sources, "to talk about it" or "share" with your friends in the same social networks, thereby attracting to this person more attention just copy it to your wall. All these functions allow to easily perform the most popular global network "Facebook", "Twittter", "MySpace" and Russian network "Vkontakte".

Thus, the social network has a broad informative, often they contain and develop information that escapes the attention of traditional media, while not neglecting the details, unverified information. Furthermore, in addition to such aspects as transparency of the entire performed activity, the interaction between participants is the key. Responding directly to those who follow the page, the politician adds an element of humanity in this process. "Even more important for every politician is to get as many subscribers to your page in order to have a large supporting force in case of need not only in online but also in off-line environment"[4].

Usually social networks to interact with popular personalities among the people is characterized by the use of three strategies. The first strategy can be called Push strategy[5]: the current page is used only as an extension of the existing (usually relatively static) Internet presence as an additional communication channel to get messages from outside. In Twitter, this strategy is mainly expressed in the unsuccessful moderation updates that are mainly used to publish press releases and speeches of the secretaries, "Facebook" unmanaged specific people walls that are blocked for public comments and almost uninhabited in the channel "Youtube".

The second strategy is called "Pull"[6]: social networks are used to attract the audience to your page, which contains the latest news. "Pull" strategy applies a policy of actively involving the audience, using some degree of interaction, resulting in a few comments on the walls in "Facebook" and a few retweets (re-publication of the same message by different users "Twitter") for every published post, and later responses to comments responses to other Twitter followers[7]. Using this strategy in social media has passed the message about the outbreak of swine flu.

Finally, the third strategy is a "network"[8]. When it applies, the owners of the pages have a clear idea of who are watching their updates, and the attention of the public what they still need to win. In this strategy there is no focus on getting informative messages or, on the contrary, their distribution is strategic for the exchange of information and knowledge between different participants in the network. In this case, politicians use the page in "Facebook", "Twitter" and other networks to not only strategically to control and send messages to a potential audience, but also to have its "ears" and "eyes" for quick reaction to the discussion of current issues relevant to their departments and agencies where they carry out their duties.

With all of this, according to the report made by the University of southern California center for the study of digital future: "today, three-quarters of Internet users believe the Web web is an important source of information, but still most people do not consider reliable the information they get online"[9].

In 2010, 15% of Internet users said they find only a small portion of online information reliable. It's certainly more than 7%, which are even more skeptical about the vast majority of the information they learn online.

In the first place distrust in social networks, people admit that social networks and they do not seek reliable information. They prefer to sit in social networks, to communicate, to spread and to view the photos, videos and updates.

Trust increases when it comes to traditional media and the websites of governments. "In 2010, 79% of Internet users said they found content posted on the websites of governments, reliable, about the same percent was in 2003, when the center was first constructed the survey"[10]. If to consider official social networks of politicians and public figures who have confirmed hyperlinks on government websites, the credibility of the information on these pages, of course, increases significantly. There are suggestions that the former presidential candidate was not even during the election campaign to make a personal page in any social network, for fear of losing the trust of their core voters, which are very conservative and with alarm looks at all sorts of computer novelties, but leaving people the opportunity to obtain information about themselves and their movements from a reliable source - the official site, at the same time losing a huge percentage of support among young people who are not accustomed to visit government sites or the websites of parties, spending most of their time on social networks, where it is much easier to click "like" or "subscribe" and follow all the updates for individuals, and thus to be always aware of the latest news.

The main objective of politicians to their personal page to be closer and more accessible to people, thus creating a more human way, which is not alien to all the usual problems of the ordinary citizen. This method, and chose French candidates election race, throwing the strength of the whole team on getting as many followers on social networks. Twitter has turned into a real interactive field, where the race unfolded. In this social network during the presidential election campaign, Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande was 206226 278858 and followers respectively.

Thus, thanks to social media needs to be erased of the power vertical, gradually becoming horizontal. In today's world almost every President or head of government there are pages in different social networks, thus they try to keep up with the times and reduce the distance that exists between the people and the apparatus of power, because often the voice of the people is lost for bureaucratic nomenclature, and in the case of the use of Internet technology with instant messaging each call every call for help can be heard. On this occasion, in 2011, Russia's President at the time Dmitry Medvedev said: "the Modern state cannot operate effectively without the Internet technologies. Therefore, we will continue to develop them. To create the conditions for rapprochement between citizens and authorities via the Internet. And I will continue blogging, be present in social networks. All – new social and political institutions and practices, which 3 – 4 years ago there were only daring fantasies. And now they work. And will grow incrementally"[11]. Thus, according to Medvedev, the President, became the first verified "Twitter" (this status confirming that the account really belongs to the President of the Russian Federation, he received during his visit to the headquarters of the company in Silicon valley), such a dialogue, according to Medvedev, is now an integral element in the interaction between the Federal authorities and the electorate: "In the same direction should work, and local authorities, from the governors to the regional management companies. It is impossible to address specific issues or through Moscow, and for more efficient interaction between citizens and their elected heads of regions of the Internet, first and foremost, social networks are the instrument,"[12].

Further, social networks are a great way to distribute and communicate their ideas, explaining their positions on specific issues.

Finally, during the presidential campaigns, it's best in the online environment to comment on the program opponents, using social media, enter the page of your competitors and monitor the progress of their campaign. Also in this period it is convenient to make a direct appeal to voters directly from their page, maintaining a dialogue with supporters. In the end, to extend their programme through the study and application of constructive ideas network users. If the page is not protected by privacy settings, the word may be granted to anyone who wants to participate in the political debate, which contrasts compared to the low accessibility of traditional media to present their positions.

If you create the right model of conduct for politicians and officials, for effective daily use of social networks is in the morning to inform that is on the agenda, and in the evening to announce that we were able to make plans and commitment to watch the growing backlash.

In addition, using social network, it becomes easier to raise funds for the election campaign or donating to victims of natural disasters, accidents or derailments.

The main advantage, why the use of social networks so attractive for politicians, bureaucrats and others is the ability to attract the attention of the younger generation, which is primarily the main audience of social networks, but often apathetic to politics, conducted within the state or to the international political and economic events. To enlist his support means to win the trust of the largest of the electorate, which will quickly grow up to be consenting adults, whose positions, opinions and attitudes will be formed in young age.

As for the citizens, the social networks help them learn more about politicians and their ideas, to form a political point of view, given the form of government and social structure of the country, in addition, to obtain information regarding the main political and economic debates. Besides, social networks give users a major advantage: the possibility of entering into a communication process with policy makers at national or local level, while expressing their demands, which mostly concern the improvement of the quality and standard of life of the population.

For people related to the opposition of the ruling power, social media becomes convenient to join groups that are summarized by one idea, to lead a new debate and defend their positions and rights.

In this case, all you need to consider that the use of social networks for political communication must remain not only political but also personal. Social networks should not be used exclusively to promote professional activity, the alert program, or agenda, they must also contribute to the establishment of personal contact with the population. If, say, a politician is willing to share events of personal life or just to tell about ordinary human Affairs, then he has every right as any other user of the social network.

Thus, whichever of the three main objectives would not pursue policies to become more accessible to people, destroying the stereotype of themselves as faceless bureaucratic apparatus or to convey in an understandable way their thoughts and positions to voters, especially youth, or finally that during the presidential campaigns or elections at different levels to make direct public appeals and promises from their page, and most importantly receive instant feedback from other users, - global information network opens up opportunities for dialogue between the authorities and the company to facilitate the involvement of citizens in the decision-making process, their participation in the management and development of the democratization process.



  1. Alex Fitzpatrick. How political campaigns can turn social media support into votes// Mashable US&World. URL:
  2. Dan Eash. Social Media's Infuence on Public Policies// eHow. URL:
  3. Ines Mergel. PA Times: Government 2.0 revisited: Social media strategies in the public sector// URL:
  4. Barbara Ortutay. Report: Most people still don't trust online info// The Washington Times. URL:
  5. Anna Griboyedov. The Russian President assured the Russians that they would continue communication with them in social media// Russian world. URL:
  6. The Declaration of principles of tolerance. URL:
  7. Dmitry Medvedev remains on social networks and talks about censorship in the Internet// URL:

[1] Dan Eash. Social Media's Infuence on Public Policies// eHow. URL:

[2] Note: the new interface of Facebook, since 2011, in which news on the page the user arranged in chronological order (in Engl. version is called timeline)

[3] Declaration of principles of tolerance. URL:

[4] Alex Fitzpatrick. How political campaigns can turn social media support into votes// Mashable US&World. URL:

[5] Ines Mergel. PA Times: Government 2.0 revisited: Social media strategies in the public sector// URL:

[6] Ines Mergel. PA Times: Government 2.0 revisited: Social media strategies in the public sector// URL:

[7] Note: from the English. follower – those who have watched and subscribed to some pages of users on Twitter

[8] Ines Mergel. PA Times: Government 2.0 revisited: Social media strategies in the public sector// URL:

[9] Barbara Ortutay. Report: Most people still don't trust online info// The Washington Times. URL:

[10] Barbara Ortutay. Report: Most people still don't trust online info// The Washington Times. URL:

[11] Anna Griboyedov. The Russian President assured the Russians that they would continue communication with them in social media// Russian world. URL:

[12] Dmitry Medvedev remains on social networks and talks about censorship in the Internet// URL:


Ekaterina Pechenkina

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