2011 was witness to probably the most exciting General Elections since Singapore’s founding 45 years ago.
The proliferation of social media was probably instrumental in the amount of chatter that was tracked online. Finally people had a space from which they could speak out, and that’s precisely what they did. Social Media sites were full of comments, debates, videos and passionate opinions about the elections, the parties and their candidates.
It was exciting to see so many differing views and opinions being broadcast without fear or censorship. But it was not just the public who embraced this new medium. The political parties, from the current ruling party to the various opposition parties took advantage of this medium to express their views, share their thoughts and basically engage with the public.
Singapore is not the first country to use Social Media to get reach out to the voters. In the U.S., Barack Obama’s presidential election campaign in 2008, employed social media heavily to win votes.
By combining social networking applications under the banner of a movement, the Obama camp created an unforeseen force to raise money, organize locally, fight smear campaigns and get out the vote that helped them topple all their opposition.
As a result, when he arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania, Mr. Obama had not just a political base, but a database of millions of names of supporters who could be engaged almost instantly.
The power of Social Media lies in the fact that it is free, it has infinite reach and most importantly, it gives people a platform from which they can air their views, express themselves - and converse and engage with other like minded individuals.
This medium, still in its infancy, is still catching on in Singapore. With the current government encouraging businesses to embrace this new platform, we hope that in the near future, we will see Social Media being utilized to its maximum potential, crossing all boundaries and uniting people of similar interests together, irrespective of geographical distances.