Social Media Beats Legacy Media in the Battle for Voters’ Hearts and Minds

According to Kommersant, which cites professional study done by the Russian Public Relations Association’s political technology committee, social media networks and messaging services proved to be an extremely successful weapon in Russia’s last parliamentary elections.

Political strategists relied heavily on Instagram, YouTube, and Telegram, while the influence of traditional media sources shrank considerably.

According to the study, which included 60 professional political consultants, social media networks are becoming more useful in election campaigns. Experts assessed them 2.7 percent on a five-point scale in 2016, but the percentage has already risen to 4.1 percent.

Instagram (4.2), Telegram (4), and YouTube (3.8) are among the social media platforms that topped the list after the elections, as political strategists began to see them as more successful than previously. 

According to the survey’s authors, the almost equal efficacy of government TV and Telegram channels “in terms of influencing decision-makers” was shocking.

Experts also rated the social media networks VKontakte and Odnoklassniki highly, awarding them a 3.5 grade.

This year, there wasn’t a single applicant who wasn’t active on social media, since such activities have now become a must, according to Association of Internet Technologists member Yevgeny Yatsyuk, who commented on the study. “There has been a significant improvement in the use of targeted advertising on VKontakte and Odnoklassniki,” the analyst said.

General Valery Fedorov, Director of the All-Russia Public Opinion Research Center, largely agrees with the survey’s findings. “The internet fight for votes is a necessity, not a whim. According to our surveys, the proportion of active TV viewers has been decreasing for two to three years, while the share of Internet users has been increasing. However, internet campaigning is not simple.” the expert said.