Social Media – there’s no escape

Tomorrow I’m going onto Jonathan Lampon‘s breakfast show on BBC Radio Leicester. I’ll be on sometime after 10, discussing social media and politics – there’s an election coming, you know,

I have a feeling I’m being asked on as a social media expert – I’ve written a couple of books on the subject and, spoken on it in a number of countries in Europe and Asia. I’ll mostly be answering as a general media commentator, though. The days when social media had any special rules that didn’t apply to other media are long gone, although people still behave as if they’re completely different.

The fact is that only one thing has changed – and that’s the way social media can follow you around for ages. The age of a bad story being next week’s chip wrapping, or whichever cliche you prefer, has pretty much gone.

Think before you type

We’ve all seen the gaffes, and those of you who know me will understand that I treasure the UKIP-makes-a-fool-of-itself versions more than most. Favourite of the moment has to be the UKIP councillor who claimed that the word “Europe” had never appeared on his passport (hint: it’s on all of them), but the other parties have been at it too. Labour’s Twitter feed was hacked, leaving it apparently announcing that a new policy allowing everybody to own an owl was on the way. David Cameron made a fool of himself putting a picture up in which he looked serious on the phone, and claimed that he’d been talking to Barack Obama at the time.

This stuff stays around now and if it gains any notoriety it’ll be everywhere in seconds.

So yes, I do think social media will be influential in the forthcoming election but only in the same way as media in general. People will listen to the reports, the debates, politicians will make their gaffes (here’s a thought: if there was no overall winner last time, did Gordon Brown throw it for Labour by calling that woman a bigot whilst still on mic?) and it’ll be reported with the medium being less important than ever since everyone can get at anything these days.

I might actually start a one-person campaign to get the word “social” dropped from social media, come to think of it. It’s so mainstream nowadays, is it really worth the distinction?