Win or flop strategies? This is how political parties used social media to campaign

Social media can be a vehicle for change. File picture: Pexels

Social media can be a vehicle for change. File picture: Pexels

Published May 28, 2024


In the contest for South Africans’ votes, political parties turned to social media, among other means, to conduct their electioneering.

Recognising the immense impact of the internet, especially on young people, the country’s political parties use various means to reach audiences online.

One such alleged controversial campaign showed women wearing African National Congress (ANC) vests. These women were dubbed “ANC baddies.”

According to the Institute for Security Studies which analysed social networks linked to significant political parties, the researchers discovered the transfer of anonymous core accounts from the ANCs’ Radical Economic Transformation (RET) faction to the newly created uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MK).

“The RET faction was associated with the 2017 Gupta bots controversy, which saw the use of multiple fake automated accounts to flood social media platforms with a nationalist white monopoly capital narrative.

“Given the history of apparent manipulation by RET using bots, the authenticity of such accounts is questionable. The report highlights how these accounts appear to flip overnight and switch political affiliation and messaging using the hashtag of another political party,” said the institute.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) reportedly spent a fortune to advertise across various social media platforms.

According to News24, the DA spent around R2.7 million on online advertisements on Instagram, Facebook, Google, and YouTube in April, while the EFF and ANC did not fork out any money for this form of campaigning.

Influencer Karabo (Kay) Mahapa, known for his comedy and skits, has become one of the few individuals using social media to mobilise voters and dissuade them from voting for a certain party.

“Hey guys, I just wanted to ask, we are still voting out the ANC right? I just wanted to make sure that we are still on the same page with regards to that mission. I don’t want you guys confused because of this bottomless electricity,” said Mahapa on a video.

He added that the ruling party is trying to ‘jump-start and and load shed memories’ from citizens.

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