Social media a 'game changer' in PH polls: expert

By Kathlyn dela Cruz, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Feb 20 2013 06:13 PM | Updated as of Feb 21 2013 03:06 AM

Social media expert Chris Talbot talks to ABS-CBN executives in a forum on social media and the elections. Photo by Fernando Sepe, Jr. for ABS-CBNnews.com

MANILA, Philippines -- The presence of candidates in social media can be a "game changer" in their bid in the upcoming mid-term elections, a US-based social media expert said.

Social media strategist Chris Talbot, president of Talbot Digital, said social media platforms such as the micro-blogging site Twitter and social networking site Facebook should be utilized by aspiring politicians in reaching out to voters.

He said candidates' social media presence can later on translate to votes.

In the Philippines, some senatorial candidates have integrated social media to their campaign strategies, which now include “tweets” and Facebook posts.

"I think it will be incredibly important for political campaigns here. It is a game changer that can make or break, for example, a presidential campaign," Talbot said.

He said candidates should not just get people to connect with their social media but "get them to knock on doors and perhaps have family and friends talk about their support."

"Let's say you can get maybe like 200,000 people in social media. Get them to your campaign and have them talk to another million people on your behalf," Talbot said.

Engagement, not number of followers, is key

Talbot said having a large number of followers in social media accounts is not the key to a bigger chance in winning in an election. Rather, it is the dialogue that candidates engage the people in.

"It's more about the engagement," he said.

"Yes, you might say [you] have a million followers but what matters is the engagement and you try to get people interested," Talbot said.

He said candidates should also learn how to listen to their "followers," noting that these people are the ones who decide whether they are deserving to hold public office or not.

Talbot said candidates should always acknowledge each and everyone's opinion even if some people's views are different from their beliefs.

"If it's something against you but reasonable, you should engage. You should respect. You should say 'I disagree but thank you for your comment.'"

"So many citizens appreciate when their leaders can engage in that dialogue and can have that communication," Talbot said.