Obama’s 2012 Facebook Campaign: Political Communication in the Age of the Like Button

Authors: Gerodimos, R. and Justinussen, J.

http://eprints.bournemouth.ac.uk/22598/

http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19331681.2014.982266

Journal: Journal of Information Technology and Politics

Volume: 12

Issue: 2

Pages: 113-132

Publisher: Taylor & Francis

eISSN: 1933-169X

ISSN: 1933-1681

DOI: 10.1080/19331681.2014.982266

This article examines the role of social media in contemporary political communication, focusing on Barack Obama’s Facebook campaign in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election. Although there is a growing body of literature on online forms of participation, little research exists on the role of social buttons on Facebook (like, comment, and share) as tools of political voice. We use these native interactive features as indicators of how citizens engage with particular political messages.

A content analysis of posts published on Obama’s official Facebook page over the two months leading up to Election Day was conducted, along with a detailed measurement of all user interactions for each post. Our analysis indicates that the Obama campaign used Facebook as a tool of top-down promotion, focusing on Obama’s personality and as a means of strategically guiding followers to act, rather than as a means of bottom-up empowerment or hybridized coproduction. However, we also found that followers engaged selectively with campaign messages and often interacted more with policy-oriented posts than with promotional ones.

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