Political Advertising on Social Media Platforms and Voting Decisions Among Residents of Akwa Ibom and Lagos States
Catalogue Vol.26 No. 1 Political Advertising on Social Media Platforms and ... Voting Decisions Among Residents of Akwa Ibom and Lagos States



The social media have become a significant factor of success in so many aspects of human endeavor and profession. Social media platforms are usually used to transmit political communication messages, especially during electioneering campaigns. This study examined political advertising on social media platforms and voting decisions of residents of Akwa Ibom and Lagos States. The major objective of this study was to ascertain whether or not political advertisements on the social media platforms influence the voting decisions of residents of Akwa Ibom and Lagos States. The survey was adopted in this study with the questionnaire as the instrument for data gathering.

The population of the study was 20.34million while the sample size was 400 respondents. Findings revealed that political advertising on social media platforms influenced the voting decisions of residents of Akwa Ibom and Lagos States. It was therefore recommended among others that while encouraging party members to use the social media platforms for political adverting, appropriate officials of political parties should advise and guide party members on the lawful and appropriate social media political advertising.

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Nigeria has had six general elections since the country’s return to democratic governance in 1999. The six general elections were held in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019, all with impressive participation by electorate nationwide. During the said elections, Nigeria witnessed a geometrical change in political advertising facilitated by the growth of the information and communication technologies (ICTs). This resulted in an unprecedented use of the Internet and web-based plat- forms for political advertisements. This development made the social media a formidable platform for political mobilization across the country (Fadipe, 2002). The political advertisements on social media platforms were generally targeted at the entire electorate but with particular attention to the youths and the elites who happen to be the obvious users of the social media platforms.

The interplay between political communication and the social media has revolutionized and redefined the scope and practice of political advertising in Nigeria. Regardless of the seeming nebulous outlook of political communication in the con- temporary time, it is a central fact that political communication is the gathering, processing and transmission of persuasive messages by a political party, its agents or flag-bearers with the aim of selling party’s ideology or candidates for the purpose of gaining political power or reinforcing the already grasped power. It is concerned with the dissemination of public interest messages of both significance and high human interest regarded as being critical to the operations of the different components of the society.

“...because health is very important to all manners of people – child, man, woman, the young and old, health journalism is attracting the interest of media professionals and the attention of journalism scholars”.

He further adds that,

...Political communication is the interplay between political parties and other institutions, vis-à-vis the mass media.

For journalists to discharge their responsibilities effectively as agents of political mobilization, they must understand the nature and working of politics the political system. People monitor political activities and decisions to know how they are affected or perhaps contribute to public debate on political matters. Politics also provides a source of entertainment as a game played by the powerful and influential personalities of the society. This explains why much attention is paid to politics through the social media, among other potent platforms. Political activities like election, political campaign, rallies, party formation, Political conventions, and political disputes attract public attention and as such the social media and their users follow them to understand some basic trends and updates.

By reason of the continuous use of the social media platforms for political advertisements, the general make-up of the Nigeria’s political culture has become affected.

...Political culture is the embodiment of the attitude of the electorate towards political process and the running of government.

For Crozier (2007), it is one of the four variables, used in the analysis of political systems. The other variables are values, beliefs and emotional attitudes about how government ought to be conducted and also about what it should do. A nation’s political culture is a set of attitudes, beliefs and sentiments which give order and meaning to a political process and which provides the underlying assumptions and rules that govern behavior in the political system. It encompasses both the political ideas and the operating norms of a polity. For Dijck and Jose (2013),

...political culture is specifically the pattern of individual political orientations, the attitudes towards the political system and its various parts and the role of individuals in the political system. It is the subjective realm which underlines and gives meaning to political activities. Political culture is talked about just as economic culture, or religious culture. It is a set of attitudes towards a special set of political objects and processes.

The social media make very important observable functional contributions to political systems and electoral system in every democracy. They sometimes serve as a behavior regulatory agent on the activities of government and its functionaries.

As educators, they relay the programmes of government to its citizenry thereby enlisting their support. In the modern state the social media have assumed a pivotal position that makes it too difficult to be ignored. Government may be antagonistic with the social media but government still needs them for survival. The social media enlighten the citizenry through the social media users and, in a way, serve as glue that ties the general citizenry to the programmes of government. Social media platforms are vital tools in political culture. According to Konijn, Tanis and Barnes (2008), the social media have pivotal roles to play in relation to the tasks of nation-building which includes political culture.

The first of these functions is the ability to disseminate information with the electorate cum social media users. In this role, the social media basically educate the audience on current issues. The socio-political and ideological milieus in which the social media operate colors their perspectives and to some extent dictate the style and language of the social media (Osunbiyi, 2012). Every country needs to educate and mobilise its citizens towards the nation’s political ideology. This study thus, examines the implications of political advertising on the social media for the voting decision of electorate in Akwa Ibom and Lagos States of Nigeria.

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