Electoral commission tapping social media to reach out to youths

Jordan Times
Fecha de publicación: 
11 Ago 2016

AMMAN — The Independent Election Commission (IEC) seeks to educate young voters and encourage their participation in the upcoming parliamentary elections through social media channels, its president said on Thursday.

There are different methods for addressing each segment of society, said IEC Chief Commissioner Khaled Kalaldeh, adding that communication experts see social media outlets, as the best means to reach out to the younger generation nowadays.

The potential lies in the fact that around 75 per cent of Jordanians are under 35, said the official, who said Jordanians use social media tools extensively.

“Youths feel they can interact and express their views through social media platforms,” he told The Jordan Times in a phone interview, adding that the commission looks into users’ suggestions.

He gave an example on promotional video material that the IEC first published through its social media channels, adding that young users said they prefer videos that provide separate information on each of the 23 electoral districts, which the commission delivered.

In addition, users require simplified information on the vote calculation formula and the voting process, a matter that the IEC covered through interactive programmes and explanatory videos, with the overall number of videos reaching 60.

Commenting on negative comments and calls for boycott posted on the IEC’s social media channels, Kalaldeh said the commission provides legal answers and explanations for those questioning the integrity of the elections and directs those who ask irrelevant questions to the concerned authorities.

“There might be 100 negative comments on a certain post, but we are not afraid of that because the same post would have 1,000 likes by supporters,” he noted.

Kalaldeh said the commission’s website (www.entikhabat.jo) has been receiving a large number of daily visitors since the promotional campaign for the elections was launched, adding that Facebook posts have received over 64,000 likes. 

Social media consultant and trainer Khaled Al Ahmad said such social media campaigns reach out to users, especially young ones, at the platforms where they spend 
considerable time.

“This is a preferred option for young people,” he told The Jordan Times in a recent phone interview.

Ahmad said there are two types of promotion through social media channels: content and influence marketing.

He explained that content marketing, which seeks generally to simplify information to the comprehension capabilities of a 13-year-old, employs infographics and two-dimensional animations. Yet, this approach “could get boring”.

Meanwhile, he said the IEC could adopt influence marketing techniques, where it builds relations with influential people on social media platforms and they in return would share and amplify the commission’s awareness and promotional material. 

In its awareness campaign, the IEC has made 65 audio and video advertisements sent out some 6 million advertisements by e-mail and distributed around 2 million flyers. 

The commission has also displayed promotional materials on some 400 street billboards and has posted 2,700 advertisements on electricity poles.  

The IEC has received over 17,500 inquiries via phone and over 670,000 through its website, according to Kalaldeh, who added that response rates reached 99 per cent with an average response time of eight minutes.

Inquiries on legal issues took an average of six to eight hours as they were referred to the concerned authorities.

The IEC also provides a database of frequently asked questions that voters may refer to, the chief commissioner said.