Media Channels

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Part
01

Media Channels

This report provides an overview of social media usage among government officials, entities, policymakers, and community-based organizations. Part (A) outlines popular platforms and their usages. Part (B) suggests methods of achieving a viral spread on social media. Part (C) provides examples of popular political blogs.

Part (A): This section provides insights on popular social media platforms among government officials, entities, policymakers, and community-based organizations.

Twitter

Twitter has become often used by policymakers to communicate policy. Evidence promotes the interactive use of Twitter by political figures (making it a best practice), but the amount that policymakers are receptive to information coming from Twitter is not clear.
  • In the U.S., 22 percent of all adults use Twitter, as of 2019.
  • "Nearly all" health policymakers had Twitter accounts as of 2016 and it was thus determined to be an effective means of strategically reaching policymakers with information on research.
  • Twitter is referred to as President Trump's "favorite form of communication."
  • The Trump presidency represents an era of "rule by tweet" as other politicians follow in his footsteps of issuing public decrees through Twitter.
  • Trump has engaged in Twitter wars with North Korean president Kim Jong Un, French President Emmanual Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, indicating that other world leaders are accessing and utilizing the platform.
  • Twitter is used by politicians to start a discussion or get onto mainstream media news.
  • Individual policymakers like Cory Booker have used Twitter to actively engage with the citizens of his district to respond to requests.
  • A study from 2014 found that political figures that use Twitter interactively (instead of just using a top-down method of communicating their stances) had more positive reception.
  • Not all tweets come from the politicians themselves. In Trump's case, Dan Scavino Jr. (White House director of social media) often writes the tweets posted by the @realDonaldTrump account.

Facebook

Facebook continues to have the largest user base, and thus the largest potential audience for making a post or issue go viral.
  • According to Facebook's report in 2018, more than 60 percent of all internet users use Facebook. As the wide majority of policymakers, entities, officials, and community groups are internet users for personal or work purposes, an equivalent percentage can be assumed.
  • Because of its large user base, Facebook should be "always" used to achieve social media outreach.
  • In the U.S., Facebook's popularity is decreasing. In 2016, it was used by 79 percent; in 2019, it was used by 69 percent of all adults.
  • While dated, a 2012 survey of government officials found that 4 out of 5 used Facebook at home.
  • As with Twitter, research indicates that politicians tend to use Facebook to make top-down statements rather than to engage actively with their base.
  • Taking a photo with a policymaker and tagging them or tagging an entity or community organization with a relevant image on Facebook along with shared gratitude is an effective means of reaching and engaging those parties.

Instagram

Instagram is becoming increasingly important for connecting with younger adults, including policymakers that are adopting the platform.
  • Image-based Instagram is the most rapidly growing platforms for overall users and thus capacity for reach. In 2016, 32 percent of U.S. adults used it, increasing to 37 percent in 2019.
  • Younger policymakers such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez use Instagram to communicate and engage with their followers.
  • 67 percent of adults ages 18-29 are on Instagram, making it the largest age group using it, while 47 percent of adults 30-49 are using the platform.
  • The most effective means of successfully reaching policymakers through social media is to use the platform they are on. While Facebook and Twitter have the greatest number of policymakers on their platforms, this may change in the future as younger officials are elected.
  • Nonprofit organizations are using Instagram to showcase powerful images related to their subject of interest for greater viral traction. Similar techniques can thus be used for similar effect in reaching members of those organizations with a post that goes viral.
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Part (B): This section provides insights on making a topic go viral on social media.

Usage of Hashtags

  • Several popular social media platforms enable the use of hashtags, including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Using the same hashtag across platforms enables greater reach and potential spread through different audiences.
  • It helps if a major public figure is involved. The #MeToo terminology and hashtag only gained popularity when actress Alyssa Milano shared her story and encouraged others to respond with #metoo. Within 24 hours, 4.7 million people on Facebook and 1 million people on Twitter had used the hashtag.
  • Knowing your audience and your platform is important. Keep a Breast Foundation successfully developed and harnessed the #CheckYourSelfie campaign on Instagram. It was successful because most Instagram users are young adults, which is the campaign's target audience.
  • Once a custom hashtag is created to advance your cause, use it often and in various channels.
  • Pair custom hashtags with well-known hashtags (such as #RareDisease) in the same post to enable the custom hashtag to spread to relevant audiences.

Add Controversy for Viral Spread

  • Social media campaigns that include posts that have added controversy or outright falsehoods are more likely to spread faster than posts that do not elicit an emotional response.
  • After studying 126,000 stories spread through 4.5 million tweets, an MIT team concluded that "falsehood diffused significantly farther, faster, deeper and more broadly than truth in all categories of information."
  • Posts that prompt at least one of the following emotional reactions are more likely to be spread (and thus achieve greater attention), per MIT's study: anger, fear, anticipation, trust, surprise, sadness, joy or disgust.
  • Posts that prompt sadness, fear, and disgust spread fastest of those provoking emotional responses.
  • As an example of how controversy causes tweets to spread, IHOP created a social media flurry when it announced (falsely) that it was changing its name to "IHOB", with the "b" standing for burgers. 1.2 million Twitter users tweeted about the campaign in the following 10 days.
  • Even though IHOP was never going to change its name, announcing that it did still result in a quadrupling of its burger sales. In other words, IHOP used fake news to spread real awareness of its product, a technique that can reasonably be used to spread awareness of issues with adequate strategic planning.
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Part (C): This section details political blogs that are popular with government officials, entities, policymakers, and community-based organizations.

Politico

Newsmax

The Hill

  • The Hill is a website, blog source, and opinion site based in Washington, D.C.
  • The Hill is considered to be a "must-read" for politicians and policymakers.
  • The Hill is rated as the 5th-best political website for overall usage by Propellant Media.
  • The Hill is considered to be non-partisan and centrist.
  • The Hill ranks #186 for news and information sites around the world.
  • The Hill had more than 62 million visitors from September 2019 to March 2020.

DailyKos

  • DailyKos is a political blog based in the United States.
  • DailyKos is one of the oldest running political blogs on the web.
  • DailyKos has attracted the attention of many liberal politicians, some of whom use it to post their own content.
  • DailyKos has a left bias and posts mixed facts at times.
  • DailyKos ranks #661 for news and information site traffic with 13.57 million visitors from September 2019 to March 2020.
Sources
Sources

Quotes
  • "It’s the president’s favorite form of communication. It’s where public officials make statements, where activists pressure politicians and where reporters announce their latest scoops. It’s where the “conventional wisdom” forms and where our national political narrative is created."
Quotes
  • "The #MeToo movement became a global phenomenon as a result of social media spreading the word. Actress Alyssa Milano sent out a tweet encouraging women who had been sexually harassed or assaulted to use the #MeToo hashtag in their social-media feed. Within twenty-four hours, 4.7 million people on Facebook and nearly one million on Twitter had used the hashtag. The number grew to over eighty-five million users in eighty-five countries on Facebook in forty-five days (Sayej, 2017)."
Quotes
  • "The study found that “falsehood diffused significantly farther, faster, deeper and more broadly than truth in all categories of information”. False political news reached more people faster and went deeper into their networks than any other category of false information."
Quotes
  • "There was some skepticism that IHOP could translate the 1.2 million tweets about the campaign in the first 10 days into sales. But it looks like the stunt has paid off. At its peak, the company was selling 500,000 burgers per week, Haley said."
Quotes
  • "As the British website “The Guardian” points out, Twitter is relatively small in the political sphere, mainly used by politicians’ key and sturdiest supporters that help push an agenda, politicians use twitter to start a discussion and get into the mainstream news on TV, in newspapers, magazines, and even other websites."
Quotes
  • "Do you see what happened? By engaging with his constituents via social media, he was able to improve service delivery and citizen satisfaction. Social media gives you the same opportunity."
Quotes
  • "Candidates who used Twitter during the course of the campaign received more votes than those who did not, and using Twitter in an interactive way had a positive impact as well."
Quotes
  • "Several of the president's personal tweets are written by Scavino himself, but he's also said Trump will dictate tweets to him."
Quotes
  • "When it comes to social media, Facebook remains the undefeated champion. Based on the statistics, Facebook is the leading social platform, reaching 60.6 percent of internet users (Facebook, 2018)."
Quotes
  • "This performance is fairly consistent with the other big social media platforms. Facebook’s popularity dropped from 79% of U.S. adults in 2016 to 69% in 2019. Meanwhile, Instagram experienced the largest gain over that period, from 2016’s 32% to 2019’s 37% of U.S. adults."
Quotes
  • "The findings indicate various uses of Facebook among the respondents, and a dissonance between what the politicians state as being important (engaging in dialogue with citizens) and what they really do (posting statements)."
Quotes
  • ""Use the sites that are applicable," said York. "I would recommend always having a Facebook presence. After that, be present on accounts that speak to your target market. If your target market is 45 plus, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok are not the best use of time."
Quotes
  • "The study found that nearly all health policymakers (defined by the authors as individuals directly related to the actual writing of health legislation) had Twitter accounts, and many use their accounts regularly. "
Quotes
  • "Twitter has the potential to aid the scientific community in dissemination of health-related research to health policy makers, after understanding how to effectively (and selectively) use Twitter."
Quotes
  • "Thank legislators (or their staff) for meeting with you, especially if they agree to something you requested such as supporting legislation. Take a photo to include in your post, if possible."
Quotes
  • "Unsurprisingly, Facebook is used at home by more that 4 out of 5 government executives. The findings reveal that Pinterest — despite being only two years old — is used at home by 1 out of 5 public servants."
Quotes
  • "Stick to the platforms most Members are on (Facebook and Twitter for now)"
Quotes
  • "Hashtags serve multiple purposes when you’re using Twitter for advocacy. Create and consistently use a custom hashtag in your tweets to group them all together. You’ll be able to see other people that use the hashtag, too. This opens the door to reach out to them, add them to your lists and share their tweets as part of building a relationship."
Quotes
  • "If you want to read the blog that actual politicians read, you want to head over to Politico. It likely has the highest standard of content of the blogs listed here, and it has an impeccable pedigree. "
Quotes
  • "While Trump also shares links from mainstream sites — his second most shared site during the time period analyzed was the Washington Post — Trump’s preferred content seems to be right-leaning, hyper-partisan sites and opinion blogs including Newsmax (18), the Gateway Pundit (14 links), the Conservative Treehouse (11), the Political Insider (1), Conservative Tribune (1), Infowars (1), newsninja2012.com (5), and westernjournalism.com (1). "
Quotes
  • "Rated the #1 political newsletter by political professionals."
Quotes
  • "The Hill is the #5 top political outlet, with around 20 million unique visitors per month. Because it is considered a “must-read” by those who influence national policy, it is a popular venue for digital advertising to get your message to a wide, savvy audience."
Quotes
  • "Since its creation Daily Kos has grown to become the largest liberal community blog in the United States, with over 215,000 registered users and 2.5 million unique viewers per month as of August 2009. . . . [It has] attracted the attention of many Democratic senators, members of Congress, governors and candidates who have posted on the site, including Senators John Kerry and Barbara Boxer, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, former President Jimmy Carter, and President Barack Obama."