Social Media and Politics (Weekly Assignment #5)

#politicalcampaign #terrorism #rhetorics #multiculturalism #nationalism

Example of Success:
Barack Obama’s presidential campaign

Probably one of the most successful political social media campaigns is the President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. He managed to gain a lot of young supporters who therefore were very active on social media as well. Hes slogan “yes we can” was not only seen on banners and posters, but as a hashtags all over social media. The campaign was significantly more modern and interactive than any former campaigns seen before. As a result of a successful campaign, Obama ended up winning the election and gaining support and followers from people worldwide.

Obama also made history by being the first president in the US to have his own personal Twitter account event after being elected as a President. Obama made an effort to change the one wayed campaigning into engaging with people and communicating with voters (sproutsocial, 2011). Obamas Twitter account has over 80 million followers and it is the fourth of most followed accounts in Twitter.

Since Obama’s election in 2008 other candidates have rushed to try to achieve the same success with social media in their campaigns. (Mad Marketer, 2016)

Example of Failure:
Olli Immonen at Memorial Event

In 2015 Olli Immonen, a member of Finnish parliament, posted a picture on Facebook of himself in a Eugen Schauman’s memorial event. Schauman was a Finnish nationalist in early 1900’s. He became famous when he assassinated a Russian Governor-General Nikolai Bobrikov.

Back to Immonen, and his failure. With him in the picture featured also members of a Suomen Vastarintaliike (SVL), a Finnish movement that is openly racist and believes in natzism. The post went viral and it was top headline in most of the Finnish newspapers. Immonen himself said that he didn’t know about the SVL-members in the picture, and that he doesn’t even know what SVL is.

Immonen didn’t get separated from his party until the next social media fail he did later in the same year. This time he posted a text on his Facebook page, where he used war-rhetorics towards multiculturalism. Reaction to this post people around Finland organized demonstrations called We Have a Dream. The demonstrations collected over 15,000 people together to defend multiculturalism.

In the aftermath, Immonen resigned from the Parliament group of his party but continued as a member of Parliament. After few months Immonen rejoined his Parliament group.

How did the success occur?

What made young people like Barack Obama was definitely the fact that he was cool and youthful. In Forbes magazine (07/2016), Laura Olin, the social media director of Obama’s 2012 presidential run describes the secret to success with her boss’s words and in a very simple way: “Don’t be lame”. This meant reenergizing the young people who voted Obama in the first run and reaching them in an authentic way. (Forbes, 07/2016)

Even if Obama’s social media campaign was more fresh and modern than the former candidate’s, it does not mean it was any less planned and strategized. Mad Marketer (02/2016) compares political campaigns in branding and points out how organized every bit of it needs to be: “Regardless of the face they present to the world, the inner workings of political candidates’ campaigns must be organized. Every tweet, every Facebook post, every blog post must follow a script and be part of a controlled message. Even Instagram posts must include talking points that lead back to a specific goal or set of goals. And, along the way, candidates would be wise to carefully archive their campaign’s social media activity. These regimented practices are the same many of today’s brands have in place.”

In Dragonfly Effect -blog (n.d.) Obama’s successful campaign was described in the next way: “Involvement through Empowerment.  This was the mission of the Barack Obama campaign. The first political campaign in history to truly harness the power of social media to spread the word, garner support and get people engaged.””

How did the failure occur?

Commentaries against multiculturalism is something that we see pretty much nowadays. But Olli Immonen failed because he used war-rhetorics, that is not how parliament members are acceptable to argue in Finland. According to historic researcher Markku Jokisipilä (Yle, 07/2015) Immonen also failed because he posted the picture and the text in summer time, when there was not lot of news to cover, so that’s also a one reason why it became such a big thing in the media.

The post was written in english, and Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat (HS) asked Minna Palander-Collin, a professor of english language from University of Helsinki to evaluate Immonen’s post and it’s rhetorics (HS, 07/2015). Immonen’s post in english: “I dreaming of a strong, brave nation that will defeat this nightmare called multiculturalism. This ugly bubble that our enemies live in, will soon enough burst into a million little pieces. Our lives are entwined in a very harsh times. These are the days, that will forever leave a mark on our nations future. I have strong belief in my fellow fighters. We will fight until the end for our homeland and one true Finnish nation. The victory will be ours.”

Palander-Collin evaluated that post is full of war-rhetorics and also that rhetorics doesn’t seem to be there by accident. Words like ‘enemies’, ‘brave nation’ and ‘defeat’ resemble to famous war-speeches.

Political Mash-up Video:

The word terrific is used to describe something of great size, amount or intensity, but also something causing terror (Oxford Dictionaries). It described the political events of 2016 perfectly, as these events have shock people around the world, causing great impact in the world and especially on social media. These footage were collected and edited together to remind people what had actually happened in the past year.


Dragonfly Effect. (n.d.). How Obama Won With Social Media. Retrieved from

Friend or Follow. (n.d.). Twitter: Most Followers. Retrieved from

Jimmy Kimmel Live. (2015, March 12). Mean Tweets – President Obama Edition. Retrieved from

Mad Marketer. (2016, February 02). THE THREE GOLDEN RULES OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS. Retrieved from

Sproutsocial. (2011, November 25). 3 Politicians With Expertly Run Social Media Campaigns. Retrieved from

Twitter. (n.d.). Barack Obama Twitter account. Retrieved from

Helsingin Sanomat. (2015, July 28). Englannin professori arvioi Immosen viestin kieltä ja tyyliä: “Ihan käypää sota­retoriikkaa”. Retrieved from

Yleisradio. (2015, July 28). Tutkija: Immosen sanavalinnat onnettomia mutta eivät lainvastaisia. Retrieved from


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