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Social Media and Election Campaigns (completed)

How do politicians use social media in democratic election campaigns? What kind of impact has politician's use of social media on journalists and agenda setting? How do politicians in the Nordic countries, USA and Australia use social media differently?

Many different flags Autralia, Norway, Swedan and other countries. Hastags usa, research, politics, norway and others. Illustration.

Social media impacts on political communication, and in line with how radio broadcasting, and later TV, imposed changes on how politicians related to the public, Facebook and Twitter represents new tools for politicians to communicate with voters. The changes raise new research questions, and the project Social Media and Election Campaigns focused on how these new tools impacts on the agenda setting and the power hierarchies in democratic countries.

Focusing on election campaigns in four stable democracies; The United States, Australia, Norway, and Sweden, the project uses a cross-national and cross-media approach to investigate to what degree social media changes political communication.

The research team uses innovative methods, and collaborate with external partners, both in the public and private media sector. Among the key methods in the project are social media network analysis, Twitter tracking, Facebook content analysis, and qualitative interviews with politicians, political advisors, and political journalists.

In collaboration with our external partners we arrange yearly public seminars, where we presents our results and discuss these with invited media workers, politicians, journalists and students. The team participates in the public debate about how social media impact on politics, both in mainstream media and in various social media.

Three key findings

  • A key finding in our studies is that social media is used by politicians for the purpose of political marketing rather than for engaging in dialogue with the voters, and as such social media is used as one-way communication tools rather than interactive personal communication tools.
  • A second key finding is that social media impacts on politics in an inter-media agenda setting, meaning that the postings on social media relate actively to current debates in mainstream media, and vice-versa; the mainstream media actively reports on social media debates.
  • Third, we found significant national differences between social media use in politics and their impact on politics, for example the Nordic region compared to the USA. Factors that impact on social media use in politics include size of population, political culture, and media system.


See full list of publications.

Published Apr. 30, 2014 11:07 AM - Last modified Apr. 19, 2020 8:31 PM