How to avoid ‘gaffe syndrome’ on social media
Social media is now a common occurrence for many, including politicians, as a means to keep in touch with their constituents and campaign supporters.
But a new study by political scientists at the University of Minnesota and Princeton University suggests that when it comes to social media, a few common mistakes can leave a lasting impression on a politician’s followers and supporters.
“A number of factors can influence how people view and interact with one another online, including what they read, the content of their posts, the frequency with which they interact, the tone of their messages, and the perceived influence they have,” said senior author Jessica Waggoner, an assistant professor of political science at the university and Princeton.
“These factors can affect how people see one another, which can influence whether they consider one another friends, colleagues, or rivals.”
The study looked at how the behavior of political actors and supporters changed when social media was introduced into their campaigns.
In particular, the authors wanted to know whether political actors who are known to be outspoken and outspoken were less likely to engage in the same kinds of gaffes that others do on social networks.
“People tend to see their peers as more knowledgeable, trustworthy, and generally trustworthy than they are,” Waggoni said.
“When you are using social media as a vehicle for these sorts of messages, the messages get out to a wider audience.”
The researchers analyzed a variety of data from three previous studies that measured people’s interactions online, with participants being asked to read a series of questions in order to determine how much of what they were reading was about themselves.
In the first study, participants were asked to answer three questions: Who is the person you would most like to meet?
What are you most excited about?
What is your biggest passion?
In the second study, researchers were asked what kind of person they would like to be in a romantic relationship with.
The researchers found that the first question was far more likely to come from the most conservative people, while the second question was more likely from the more liberal participants.
The third study, on the other hand, found that those with more liberal political views were more likely than those with conservative political views to have a tendency to use the word “liberal.”
The most common mistake, Waggonis said, was to make the comparison between a politician and a conservative, noting that some political actors have a “liberal bias” that makes them assume that conservatives are “more conservative than they really are,” or to use terms such as “liberals” or “social liberals.”
Waggoni explained that this type of “falsification” can be especially damaging to a politician, as it often serves to cast a negative light on his or her opponent.
“If you have someone that is more of a ‘liberal’ person than you are, you are going to be more likely in the long run to see the negative effects of making the comparison,” she said.
The study was published online in the Journal of Experimental Political Science.
Waggoners team is currently working on another study, in which participants were told that they would be asked to fill out a questionnaire that assessed their political beliefs, such as their “liberal political leanings.”
The findings from the first two studies suggest that a few specific issues could have a big impact on how people perceive and interact on social platforms.
For example, it may be important to know if someone is a member of a political party, or a liberal or conservative, to see how they may respond to specific messages.
“In a way, we’re asking these questions to determine whether people are liberals or conservatives,” Wagoni said, “but there is a big difference between being a liberal and being a conservative.”
In the second part of the study, the researchers also asked participants to complete a survey about their political views, with the goal of finding out how much they “trust” or believe in “common assumptions” that people tend to make online.
The results showed that while there were some notable differences in people’s trustworthiness, the overall message was the same: People tend to trust people who are liberal or moderate, but that they are not necessarily “all things to all people.”
Wagoni and her colleagues hope to expand their study with a longer-term analysis of the impact of political behavior on social-media followers, so that they can see if there are ways to counteract some of the most common mistakes that people make online and avoid them from occurring in the future.