The development of various means of communication continues to emerge as the society develops. Different eras of development in the society, were marked with forms of communication suitable to the period. For instance, earlier forms of communication did not need any technology or skill but as the need to communicate with a wider audience grew, so did the channels, bringing writing and writing forms in its wake. That era introduced theories like the Bullet theory that dwells on the strong, direct effects of the media on people. The theory was based on the “push” model concept of the mass media, where the gatekeepers who decide what the audience will have, simply push the information to the receiver. With the advent of new technologies today, the focus has shifted. The Uses and Gratification Theory has actively displaced the Bullet theory in the sense that people, when they are not seeking out media to subscribe to, can/have become the media themselves. The „audience‟ has moved from being just consumers to producers of their own media. The internet media is based on the “pull” model where receivers pull only the information they want. Tools like blogging, podcasting, video blogging allow the average citizen the ability to pull what is relevant and also participate in producing content. The evolution of the internet provided the technological framework for the emergence of the social media platform. The Internet has been described as a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to serve billions of users worldwide. This extended definition by Omojuwa (2012) captures the essence and function of the internet; It is a network of networks that consists of millions of private, public, academic, business, and government networks, of local to global scope, that are linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless and optical networking technologies. The Internet carries an extensive range of information resources and services, such as the inter-linked hypertext documents of the World Wide Web (WWW) and the infrastructure to support email. Most traditional communications media including telephone, music, film, and television are reshaped or redefined by the Internet, giving birth to new services such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and Internet Protocol Television (IPTV). Newsproject, book and other print publishing are adapting to Web site technology, or are reshaped into blogging and web feeds. The Internet has enabled or accelerated new forms of human interactions through instant messaging, internet forums and social networking The new media of communication as the internet is commonly referred to, through the pervasiveness of web 2.0 has broadened and substantially increased public participation in the media. Web 2.0 is a term referring to myriad web applications that provide for interactive information sharing and collaboration via the internet using a variety of means such as texts, images, audio and video (Addison, 2006). The World Wide Web brings the internet into the realm of mass communication and also enables the development of the Social media tools for audience engagement. Social media has been defined in various ways by different scholars, some of these definitions will now be highlighted. Weber (2009) defined social media as an online place where people with a common interest can gather to share thoughts, comments and opinions. Weber further described social media as a new world of unpaid media created by individuals and companies on the internet. According to B&C (2010) social media is an online technology tool that allows people to communicate easily utilizing the internet to share and discuss information. In this capacity, it allows users to create content, interact and collaborate in a user generated visual community. Kaplan and Haenlein (2010) defined social media as a group of internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of web 2.0 and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content. Other definitions see social media as elements of the new media that has the highest activity on the internet which use web-based technologies that transform and broadcast media monologues into social dialogues, support the democratization of knowledge and information while transforming people from content consumers to content producers. Social media are also perceived as tools that help to reach people when, where and how they want to receive messages; it improves the availability of content and may influence satisfaction and trust in the messages delivered. Likewise, social media equally provide the opportunity to tap into personal networks and present information in multiple formats, spaces, and sources which helps to make messages more credible and effective. Additionally, many social media channels facilitate social engagement, viral sharing of information and trust. It is obvious then that integrating social media into different communication campaigns and development activities will allow the government, civil society and other professionals to leverage social dynamics and networks to encourage participation, conversation and community – all of which can help spread key messages and influence informed and positive decision making. Deriving from the above definitions, it could also be argued that the social media tools could be suitable for mass mobilization of the Nigerian society, though with the recognition of certain challenges to the effectiveness of this tool, due to the socio economic development context of Nigeria. There are three key attributes of social media channels that are believed to make them highly effective as social development communication tools.
• Personalization – content tailored to individual needs
• Presentation – timely and relevant content accessible in multiple formats and contexts
• Participation – partners and the public who develop and contribute content in meaningful ways. Many authors believe Social media and other emerging communication technologies to be useful tools for social development and mobilization, because of the following characteristics:
Social media can connect millions of voices to, increase the timely dissemination and potential impact of trends and issues as they evolve in the society. Leverage audience networks to facilitate information sharing. Expand reach to include broader, more diverse audiences. Personalize and reinforce development messages on several issues that can be more easily tailored or targeted to particular audiences. Facilitate interactive communication, connection and public engagement. Empower people to make better informed decisions. Of the many mass media theories, the Uses and Gratification theory appears to capture the paradigm shift in audience use of the media enabled by the social media. This shift can best be described as a shift from „one-to-many‟, to „many-to-many‟ communication. The Uses and Gratifications theory is a model that could be used in understanding the different ways the audience now applies the media to satisfy personal needs and gratifications via the internet web based technologies. Uses and Gratifications Theory (a limited effects theory)
1.2. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY:
Earlier definition of the concept of social mobilization simplified it as the process of dialogue, negotiation and consensus building for action by people, communities, and organizations etc. to identify, address and solve a common problem (UNICEF, 1997). However, more recent definition broadened the concept as; a broad scale movement to engage people's participation in achieving a specific development goal through self-reliant efforts. It involves all relevant segments of society: decision and policy makers, opinion leaders, bureaucrats and technocrats, professional groups, religious associations, commerce and industry, communities and individuals. It is a planned decentralized process that seeks to facilitate change for development through a range of players engaged in interrelated and complementary efforts. It takes into account the felt needs of the people, embraces the critical principle of community involvement, and seeks to empower individuals and groups for action. (UNICEF, 2002). Social mobilization is borne out of the need to organize people into groups to ensure their involvement and participation in development programmes. Available literature shows that social mobilization‟s goal is the provision of a continuum of activities in a broad strategic framework to facilitate change. The process encompasses dialogue and partnership with a wide spectrum of societal elements with an outcome which are people's active involvement in the process starting with identifying a need to implementation, and achieving the development objective and evaluation effort. There are different parts to social mobilization such as: the motivation and organization of different groups that results in the successful transformation of development goals into societal action; involving the people in taking part actively and freely in discussions and decisions affecting their general welfare; a process that engages and motivates a wide range of partners and allies at national and local levels to raise awareness of and demand for a particular development objective through face to face dialogue. In all these efforts, social mobilization process ensures that, members of institutions, community networks, civic and religious groups and others work in a coordinated way to reach specific groups of people for dialogue with planned messages (Wikipedia, 2011). In other words, social mobilization seeks to facilitate change through a range of players engaged in interrelated and complementary efforts. In fact, social mobilization aims at increasing people's level of awareness or cognition of political and other issues so that they can apply their energies positively and participate actively in the social and political life of the country. In the present political dispensation, social mobilization now occurs most frequently through these three main social media; the face book, text messages and twitter. In fact it seems as if the traditional media primarily responsible for calling people into action for meeting and other social activities have been overtaken by the social media especially block text messages, face books and emails. From the above explanations, social mobilization could be defined simply as a means of inspiring people to active action and engagement concerning social issues. The key for mobilization is to inspire and motivate individuals to go from the comfort of their homes to engage in development actions. The development of the internet has provided an alternative means for mobilizing the public. Social media allow organizers such as professionals, civil society and government who are recognized as key agents of social mobilization to involve like-minded people in a particular desirable activity at a very low cost, to action. Instead of attending meetings, workshops and rallies, un-committed individuals can join a Facebook group or follow a Twitter feed at home.
1.2. RESEARCH PROBLEM:
For a long time, due to many factors, including the ‘hegemonic’ nature of communication in Nigeria, youths had little opportunity to be active in governance, or make their views heard. However, with improvement in communication technology, the status quo appears to be changed. Internet tools like the Social media have revolutionised the way people communicate. In Nigeria, youths, who have higher levels of affinity with the social media, are using it to achieve different ends. It holds lots of potential for news, information, entertainment, mobilisation, interaction and expression. Given these potentials, it is pertinent to find out how the social media impacts the issue of governance and political participation by youths. Some studies have been carried, most focusing on events such as protests. It is however pertinent to examine how the leadership and the political atmosphere has been changed, with relation to youths access to social media. This forms the crux of the study.
1.3. OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY:
It has been suggested that the use of social media such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Blogs and other social media tools as a new means to disseminate messages and engage the audience in participatory communication has created a new dimension in social mobilization making it easier to organize and disseminate ideas. It is instructive to point out that despite its various strengths as an interactive media, different schools of thought have argued against the credibility of most of the contents. Available statics demonstrate that the prevalent and most subscribed social media in Nigeria are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, in that order. Given this development this project examines the potentials and challenges in the use of social media by civil society and government as a tool to promote positive developmental trends in the society. The objective is to add to the growing body of theoretical knowledge of social media and examine the theoretical framework supporting the use of social media networking apparatus for social mobilization and development. The end point of this study is to discover how social media can be used as a tool for social mobilization in Nigeria, thereby providing new possibilities to the problem of ineffective and aborted social campaigns and development efforts. Specifically this discourse has three fold objectives to;
1. Provide a definition of diverse range of social media in Nigeria context.
2. Discuss the use of different social media networking, in Nigeria political process using the Anambra State gubernatorial election as a case in point.
3. Present a discussion of current challenges, opportunities and potential future directions related to the use of social media as a tool for social mobilization for development.
To know the conscious level of internet usage by Nigerians
To know how much Nigerians are embracing the use of ICT, especially social media
To know how social media is being used as a political tool
To know how social media is changing the political behaviour of Nigerians;
And how is has help in political mobilization of the Nigeria people.
1.4. SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY:
The reaching hand of the social media purview, within the concept of global village, has given some restrictive measures to the government of any nation. It is now an open secret that any anti-people policies will not be condoned by the people and within a split of minute the world would learn about it.
The increase in the activities of the internet tools-social networks, emails, and websites and blog sites-are becoming tools for acerbic criticism as harangue of comments would take no minute in raining on the faulting government.
Different governments of the world are becoming conscious of these information communication technologies to be potent tools that can be explored in gaining the support and ways of bridging the chasm between the governed and government
According to Dr. Ajibade, he said “ there is a solution to any problem through communication” Thus, the significance of this study is that it would help the government and the governed to see a new perspective to the usage of social media; as a tool of national integration, cohesion unity and communal affiliation
From the happenings around the world, social media has re-engineered the thinking of the people and act as a medium of protest. This study makes a call to duty by government to explore this tool also as a medium to gain popularity on its ideological stand and policies alike.
As it has been known that every study would add to any existing knowledge on any phenomenon, this study would not cease to do the same by adding to the increasing fountain of knowledge by using social media as a political tool and a tool of mobilization.
This study would also imply how the government can considerably reduce cost of governance by making use of social networks to communicate with the people. The cost of communicating with people by the African societies has been snare at because of excessive wastage of resources. However, social networks can bridge and reduce cost of communication through conventional method.
1.5. RESEARCH QUESTIONS:
What is the level of internet usage in the society?
What is the level of social media participation?
How many social media channel do you know of?
How many of the social media channel have you used effectively?
Did social media influence your decision to participate fully in the society?
1.6. RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS:
H1: Social media channels influences social participation in a society
H0: Social media channels does not influence social participation in a society
H1: Social media is an effective tool for mass mobilization in a society
H0: Social media is not an effective tool for mass mobilization in a society
H1: Social media is very cheap to use for the effective transmission of information in the society
H0: Social media is very costly to use for the effective transmission of information in the society.
1.7. LIMITATION OF THE STUDY:
For the simple fact that research has limitation in different realm, has contributed to the restrictive hands of this study. This research did not enjoy the luxury of time and space; it would have helped in the adequate facilitation of more data gathering for and better research that would enjoy external validity.
It is not strange that the topic understudy is an analytical study that needs diverse respondents from different locations. The demography of the respondent was however restricted to a particular area who are to a large extent youths.
To light another limitation, the research encountered droughty and arid ground in the area of supporting the study claim and referencing with necessary materials
Another limitation is that fact that the materials presented are sourced from the internet, which might not be trusted some time.
1.8. DEFINITION OF TERMS:
Internet- this is interconnectedness of computer all over the world via a central server
Social media- this is a new media that help in the interactivity of the people
Social network – these are the networks that allow for the interaction- facebook, twitter and yahoo
Subsidy- this is the money put into something to make the cost of production less effective
Arab spring- This was a revolution that happened in the Arab world-Egypt and Tunisia
Mobilization – this is the deliberate act of conveying people to support a certain course
Influence – This is the effect of something on another
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