Sample Research Paper on Interest Groups and Social Media

Interest Groups and Social Media

The emergence and growth of interest groups in the socio-political scene is a huge game changer and very evident. The supremacy and monopolistic nature of political parties are being challenged by interest groups. Per Dür (2019), an interest group is an organization that seeks to try and sway public opinion. They do so by engaging in progressive activities aimed at guiding and controlling public attitudes. The rise in the number and prevalence of interest groups in the mainstream U.S. is a result of three factors. First is the existence of multiple social cleavages along the lines of religion, race, income, and gender. The second factor is the implementation of federalism and the separation of powers provided for by the constitution. As such, interest groups can exercise some degree of power. Lastly, is the intense segmentation of the system allowing the development and prosperity of economic interest groups such as labor unions. There are two types of interest groups: membership and institutional. The latter can either be individuals or organizations representing other groupings. The former is primarily supported by the activities and contributions of ordinary citizens. The growth and success of interest groups can primarily be attributed to the influence of social media.

Effect of social media on interest groups

Current interest groups are stronger and more successful than those of the early 1980s due to the emergence and spread of social media. Interest groups have continued to grow while major political parties weakened. The contribution of social media to the success of interest groups is ingrained in the suitability of social media to interest groups as opposed to other conventional communication channels. It is important to note that social media refers to digital platforms that allow for social networking whether applications or websites. Social media is ideal for interest groups first and foremost because it is easy to use and understand. Moreover, interest groups can monitor and measure the success of their social media campaigns. The availability of engagement metrics enables interest groups to measure the degree of engagement they have with their intended audience. Additionally, social media also makes it possible for interest groups to target specific audiences. Secondly, social media is both convenient and flexible considering the high degree of internet penetration, especially in developed countries.

Thirdly, social media is easily affordable and more interesting than conventional communication and networking platforms like rallies. The average American youth and the poorly paid average worker, for instance, have access to the internet and at least either a computer or smartphone. Certain social media platforms like Facebook have 220.5 million users in the U.S alone. The prevalence of the internet in almost all locations makes it easy for interest groups to reach their constituencies at most times and quickly. Lastly, lately, even the president has embraced social media as a platform for making not just informal but even formal communications such as dismissing certain governmental officers. This has made reaching government agencies and officials is easier via social media easier than emails and letters for instance. These factors make social media very appropriate for interest groups in pursuing their interests in two ways. The first is in maintaining constant communication with its constituencies and reaching the appropriate governmental agency.

How Interest Groups use Social Media.

Most interest groups have mastered the art of optimizing social media for their benefit. They have successfully used it to achieve the following outcomes. The first is to provide raise awareness about their existence and woo potential members. Facebook provides the best opportunity for this due to its massive user database. As opposed to conducting personal selling initiatives or setting up posters and adverts, social media provides a golden opportunity to reach many people at less cost and effort. Most of these interest groups have Facebook pages that include their information, vision, and achievement. This information is open to the whole public. As such, growth and increase in interest groups is a matter of time. The information provided on their pages also highlights the constituencies that they are targeting. Twitter also plays a big role in accomplishing this since it has a monthly visitor rate of 48.35 million users. Additionally, approximately 42% of the US Twitter users visit the platform on a daily basis (“Twitter by the Numbers,” 2020).

Secondly, social media platforms allow interest groups to maintain their users’ base by providing them with a constant flow of information. Using their most widely viewed social platforms, they ensure the constant delivery of new and relevant information. The group also carefully sticks to information that is deemed interesting to the audience. It is a common practice to find that most of these interest groups have a professional social media strategist. The organization also ensures that new members are educated on the happenings of the organization by republishing content while highlighting the important messages. Since social media has inherent metrics that measure the degree of engagement, these organizations can retrieve the most engaging content in their archives and relay this content to the new users.

The third benefit that interest groups derive from social media involves maintaining an activity log. This feature allows one to review and manage all their shared information on the platform. As such, all members are well informed of any advocacy efforts and successes made by the group. These include occurrences such as meetings with key governmental officers and agencies. Facebook’s new Watch Party feature even enables interest groups to engage their members by allowing them to watch live as advocacy efforts occur (Kumparak, 2018). This enables members to take an active role by providing their feedback in live time. Based on this feedback, the organization can also sort and gather new ideas and product opinions. As such, the social media engagement platform becomes a fertile ground for ideas mobilization and brainstorming. Lastly, social media allows interest groups to reach and secure partners and financiers. Social media is not just a preserve of the middle class and the poor in society. The elite and wealthy also visit it from time to time. During such expeditions, they may find suitable interest groups whose activities are fundamental and hence end up supporting them financially.

It is clear and observable in the current political atmosphere that interest groups are growing and succeeding while political parties are weakening. This can be explained by several reasons. The primary reason behind this trend is the ability of interest groups to strongly influence public opinion (Andsager, 2000). While political parties mainly align themselves with public opinion with a view of wooing voters, interest groups shape public opinion to the preferences of their members. They primarily depend on their members for what to seek and pursue while political parties dictate to their followers what to follow. A governmental directive such as a smoking ban can be framed as direct interference by the government on people’s private lives by a smokers’ interest group. This could be the members’ opinion concerning the ban. The group will just seek to air and articulate this opinion to the relevant agencies. Social media enhances the closeness of interest group members based on ideas and opinions that are jointly shared. As such, interest groups are able to grow and expand their reach since most of these ideas and opinions are shared by many people across the country. Political parties, on the other hand, only seem to further the ideas and opinions of the leaders alone. They seldom reach down to the common person and ask for their opinions and then implement them. As such, people feel more involved in interest groups and end up owning them more than they do with political parties.

Conclusion

The discovery of social media has had a hugely positive effect on the success of interest groups. The ability of social media to concentrate many people on a single platform has made it easy for interest groups to target their specific audiences. Its ability to also allow for interpersonal communications has enabled members of interest groups to play key roles by contributing in terms of views and opinions. The engagement metrics and activity logs also allow interest groups to gauge their members’ involvement and engagement in group activities. All these factors help explain the positive effect that social media has had and continues to have on interest groups.

References

Andsager, J. L. (2000). How interest groups attempt to shape public opinion with competing news frames. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly77(3), 577-592.

Dür, A. (2019). How interest groups influence public opinion: Arguments matter more than the sources. European journal of political research58(2), 514-535.

Interest Groups. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.socialstudieshelp.com/APGOV_Interest_Groups.htm

Kumparak, G. (2018, July 25). Facebook’s ‘Watch Party’ rolls out to all, letting Groups watch videos together – TechCrunch. Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2018/07/25/facebook-what-is-a-watch-party/

Twitter by the Numbers (2020): Stats, Demographics & Fun Facts. (2020, February 10). Retrieved from https://www.omnicoreagency.com/twitter-statistics