The African National Congress has embraced the use of social media to connect with the people of South Africa. As the ANC, we recognise that social media can be used to discuss and debate burning concerns about the state of South Africa and enable ordinary South Africans to communicate directly with the ANC, thus informing us of issues that impact South Africans on a day-to-day basis. As a party, we value the impact of social media on domestic and international affairs and know the importance of social media as a voice for all South Africans. With more and more South Africans obtaining access to mediums such as Facebook, Twitter and Mxit, the ANC is uniquely positioned to respond and offer feedback on some of their concerns.
The ANC, more than any other South African political party, has a targeted approach in its use of social media and utilises social media strategy that is designed with the ordinary South African in mind. As a result, we have seen significant growth on both our Twitter and Facebook platforms, with Twitter growing to almost threefold to 103 000 followers and our Facebook page, growing from approximately 30 000 'likes' in November 2013 to over 52 000 at present.
The ANC uses these platforms to inform people of ANC-related news and events, making use of media and content that the younger and older audiences can relate to. For example, the ANC utilises the #ThrowBackThursday theme, as a way of educating the young and old alike about the history of the ANC and to illustrate the irreversible gains made by South Africa since 1994.
We also use Facebook, Twitter and Mxit to highlight participation of ANC learder visits, other undertakings taking place at various locations in South Africa and to chronicle the participation of ANC leaders and members which are related to our election campaign. Thus, even if interested parties cannot attend they can obtain information about these activities directly from the ANC, unrestricted by framing and bias that often pervade coverage of these events by the mainstream media. The ANC continues to use Twitter, specifically our aptly named #Twitterviews, as a means of allowing ordinary members of the public to tweet questions to their leaders. This allows South Africans unprecedented access to senior ANC leaders, government officials and public figures, and past #Twitterviews saw regular South Africans asking probing and relevant questions from Comrades Gwede Mantashe, Jessie Duarte, Obed Bapela, Jackson Mthembu, Hlengiwe Mkhize and the now departed and respected HIV/AIDS activist, Lesego Motsepe.
In the end, Social media is also very important for the ANC as it enables feedback to be received from a vast audience, without any hindrances. The ANC takes this feedback into account at all times, not just during election time. After the national and provincial elections on 7 May 2014, we will continue to engage South Africans on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, using these platforms as a means of creating open and unceasing dialogue between the people of South Africa and the ANC.