Online activism and party strategy at the UK 2015 general election: Analysing the potential impacts of online campaigning
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Authors: Lilleker, D.G.
Journal: Comunicazione Politica
Online campaigning is now embedded in most democracies and has evolved to focus on activating and mobilising online followers in order to extend the reach of campaign communication. This article explores the extent of party use of social media platforms in the UK during the 2015 general election, and the extent to which they were able to harness their followers to work for the campaign. The data, drawn from analysis of social media profiles and a survey, finds parties keen to develop shareable content and using all three major social media platforms. The followers largely performed few sporadic interactions, with parties only gaining 1-3% who would be activists that were committed to the campaign. The reasons for this appear to be the failure by parties to enthuse their followers, rather they lag behind NGOs in having active, campaigning communities. Overall the article suggests that the online campaign might play a marginal role in elections, perhaps firming up wavering supporters although there could be evidence that some parties do gain active followers over the course of an election contest.