SOCIAL MEDIA AND BEHAVIOURIAL CHANGES OF ELECTORATES DURING 2015 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IN NIGERIA
The use of social media to rally support during electioneering process is no longer in doubt, to advance the conversation and mobilize political supports. Social media has become a strong political tool for campaigning strategists. Nigerian politicians indeed, have taken their campaigns to the social networking sites and other online platforms while the electorates also have embraced the platform as a vehicle of activities for political engagement, within the election period, political aspirants were disposing of all means to gear up their support based beyond traditional forms of media, following the realization that electioneering process requires more than just handshake and physical persuasion. The study was anchored on the theoretical framework of technological determinism, it explains new media technologies in communication that it would soon determine social changes, turning the world into a global village. Also, grounded on the Agenda-setting theory of the mass media, the theory opined that the media set agenda for the public to follow. The study adopted quantitative research approach, surveyed 150 respondents purposively drawn from Students of Mass Communication Department, Interlink Polytechnic, Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, and used the questionnaire as instrument of data collection. The percentage method was also used to analyse data. Findings of the study show that usage of social media for electioneering greatly influenced the electorates behavior towards voting pattern for their preferred candidates during 2015 general election. Also, it revealed that, the two leading political parties in Nigeria did use the social media much in the electioneering campaigns of the 2015 elections, and the candidates of the two leading political parties utilised the social media and other platforms to engage the electorates more than traditional media. Lastly the activities they disseminated in the social media bordered mainly on announcement of programmes, personalities of the party flag bearers and their manifestoes. The researcher recommended more proactive and continual use of the social media platforms by the Political Aspirants, leading political parties and all registered parties in Nigeria.