The Use of Social Media in Political Campaigns: The Case of Croatian Local Elections

By Kisic, Alen | Journal of Economic and Social Development, September 2019 | Go to article overview

The Use of Social Media in Political Campaigns: The Case of Croatian Local Elections


Kisic, Alen, Journal of Economic and Social Development


1.Introduction

The Internet has enabled new ways of connecting, communicating and distributing information.

Participants in political campaigns have always used new and innovative ways of communicating in order to reach the voters. Earlier newspapers, radio, television, and today the internet, largely changed political communication. Since it has become a mainstream, it attracts the attention of researchers in the domain of political communication. The new dimension of research in this area is achieved by the emergence of a social media platform [1]. Many authors point out that social media has drastically changed the way of creating, distributing, and measuring political communication. Dynamic interactions and complex interdependencies at different levels and dimensions brought by social media represent a challenge to traditional understanding of political communication [1]. Rapid expansion and application of social media in political campaigns around the world prompted scientists to explore how the use of this technology affects political orientation, participation and attitudes of voters. Boyd states that a profound understanding of the characteristics and dynamics of social media communication provides a valuable framework for understanding the logic of social processes [2]. Buettner [3] defines social media as a computer-mediated tools that allow you to create, share, or exchange information, ideas, images, or videos in virtual communities and networks. There are various forms of social media: Blogspot, LiveJournal, Yahoo! answers, Epinions, Flickr, YouTube, Digg, Reddit, microblogs (Twitter, Foursquare) and social networks (Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tribe) as the most popular form of social media [4]. Social media play a significant role in politics. Recent research has been conducted with the aim of identifying the influence of social media on political campaigns from several perspectives: political participation, political knowledge and political efficiency [5].

Common characteristic for each of them is persuasion, which is crucial to political campaigns.

Every speech, every phone call, every knock on the door, every announcement through social media has the purpose of propaganda created to influence voters.

The aim of this research is to determine the frequency and means of using social media in political campaigns and associate it to the outcomes of the election. To be more specific, Facebook usage by Croatian political candidates during the 2017 local elections is examined. In order to achieve the objective, this paper analyses the data collected in the context of Croatian local elections by applying descriptive statistics.

This paper is organized as follows. Extensive literature review of this topic is explained in chapter 2. Chapter 3 presents research questions along with the data and methodology description.

Chapter 5 presents results.

2.Literature Review

An extensive literature review has been conducted and results shown that there is a need to monitor the content being published and to analyse the impact of that content on the targeted audience. Today, in the big data era this is possible more than ever. Access to data provided a breakthrough from a mere assessment to data-based decision making. Which data and for what purposes have been used in the previous researches?

Housholder and LaMarre [6] investigated relationship between expectations of the campaign on social media and information on participation in the elections that occurred as a result of activity on social media. The results indicate that social media engagement has a positive impact on the campaign. Authors point out that engagement on social networks can also help in prediction the outcome of the election. Housholder and LaMarre believe that future research should investigate to what extent certain types of engagement on social media result with desired outcomes [6].

Guleria et al, [7] discussed the impact of an electronic campaign on the behaviour of voters, their awareness and understanding of political parties. …

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