#Armvote17 Lessons

Samvel Martirosyan

Media researcher

The parliamentary elections will be discussed and analyzed from different perspectives for a long time yet. But already a few conclusions can be drawn regarding the use of the online domain in political processes.

A. Political parties and blocs used social media quite actively this time. Noticed on social networking sites was the work of teams of specialists. However, there were several important shortcomings:

  • Used as a working platform was mainly Facebook. Instagram was included simply as a platform attached to Facebook.
  • The main emphasis was on paid ads. And, by the way, the target of the majority of advertising materials were users “living in Armenia, 18 years of age and older.” That is to say, targeting wasn’t done according to the content, which is the key to social media’s advertising opportunities.  
  • Very few politicians made use of the option of livestreaming on social networking sites. While those that did, often abused it.
  • Interesting and unexpected solutions, the opportunity of which social media affords, were practically not used.
  • The activity on social networking sites was irregular: activists would sometimes get really active, even until boring or wearing out users, but other times they would almost disappear.
  • The majority of active party members didn’t have a good idea of how to use social media and worked mechanically.
  • Individual candidates promoted themselves by their own efforts, which was reminiscent of a motley and chaotic movement.

B. The day of silence, in fact, became fiction. Of course, TV and radio stations adhered to the legal requirement, but the internet was flooded by ads not only on April 1, the day of silence, but also during election day itself. And advertising was present on not only social media, but also websites, where Google Ads were placed. Since this domain is uncontrolled, often it’s not possible to definitively identify who placed the ad. So, generally speaking, for the future, we can assume two solutions regarding the day of silence:

  • Abandon the idea of a day of silence altogether, since the internet makes it pointless. And especially since outdoor advertising likewise is not removed on those days, and only TV, radio, and print media remain controllable. The influence of the latter is minimal, while television and radio have been long been operating in parallel online. And, at the very least, their archives remain accessible and are shared on social media.
  • Adopt the gentlemen’s agreement approach, whereby all political parties and blocs will be obliged to maintain the day of silence online. This option is very difficult to implement, taking into account the possible provocations and machinations.

In summary, it can be said that political groups make use of the opportunities afforded by the internet, but they still don’t use all of its tools.

Samvel Martirosyan

The views expressed in the column are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Media.am.

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