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1.0 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The world is moving away from the traditional form of political Advertising and campaigning in electronic media which is television and radio to a more global and far reaching one which is the internet and more specifically social networking sites. The social networking sites as a sub-medium of the internet has become a veritable ground for political groups and political actors wishing to tap into the endless benefits of the information communication technology miracle regarded by many as a revolutionizing technology.
According to Harry Rheingold(1993), he argued that the widespread use and potential derived from the use of this revolutionizing technology in political campaigns have brought about speed promised greater levels of interactivity and connectivity, the absence of hierarchies or bureaucracies and the possibilities offered by an unfiltered and unmediate source of communication have together contributed greatly by its use by politicians and political groups in their political campaigns in advanced and nascent democracies as a whole.
As observed, political campaigns is aimed at influencing the process and outcomes of governance. It consists of an organized communication effort, involving the role of one or more agencies (be they parties, candidates, government institutions or special interest organisations) seeking to influence the outcome of processes of political decision making by shaping public opinion. Political actors are campaigning because they hope that the support of the public or of relevant segments of the public will help them to promote their political causes (David M. Farrell and Rudiger Schmitte-Beck, 2002).
The use of social networking sites in political parties spans across increased media exposure, funding, participation and increased mobilization and enthusiasm in numerous recent political campaigns social. Network sites are now proven to be unsurpassed in their effectiveness to gather and communicate a targeted political message raising the stakes in strategy and aggressive social media participation.
However, the number of politically active citizens online and offline are expanding throughout the world via the new communications role of the internet (Quintelier and Vissers, 2008). The 2006 Belgian election, the Catchphrase ‘Think’ was distributed through friendship networks on Myspace to stimulate discussions and thought around voting preference and to encourage voters to reconsider voting for a right party (Quintelier and Vissers, 2008). In 2007, it was estimated that 40% of all social networking users had used Myspace and Facebook as a source for political information in the United States and 20% of people used these sites to discover the political interests of their friends (Zhang et al, 2010). Barack Obama successful used Twitter, Flickr, Youtube, Facebook among others to communicate and mobilize people. He also had a $2million dollar custom campaigning and social networking site called mybarackobama.com (Walmsley 2005, Crow 2008, Talbot 2008). At the end of his campaign Obama had 2.4million Facebook friends which his rival Mccain had 624,000 (Zhang et al, 2000).
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