Electoral Campaigning on Social Media: Creating Strategies for 2014 European Elections

Vesnic-alujevic, L. (2012). Electoral Campaigning on Social Media: Creating Strategies for 2014 European Elections. Communication beyond mediatization: Budapest workshop 23-24 Nov. 2012.

Abstract: Over the short period of several years, social media entered the mainstream of political communication. On the EU level, social media have been used since the campaign for the 2009 European Parliament elections. Through the use of different websites, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have tried to influence the potential electorate, offer more information about their work and opinion and mobilize supporters. Since then, the use of social media has developed and become more systematic among the MEPs. Based on the current state of affairs regarding the use of social media in politics in Europe, this paper explores the possibilities for the broader use of social media during the 2014 electoral campaign for the European Parliament. This will be examined through the assessment of communication and potential links between politicians and their potential electorate. Drawn upon Blumler and Kavanagh’s threefold way of Internet use in political communication, namely: as a supplement to traditional media (and not a replacement), an instrument of mobilization, and a means of diversification regarding exposure to political communication, we conducted semi-structured interviews with Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), their advisors and campaign managers. Through the obtained qualitative data, we critically assess the perceptions politicians have on communicating with voters through the internet, the extent to which they use social media and their interactive features and their attitudes towards the role social media in campaigning and communicating, especially in comparison to traditional media. Through the obtained results, we try to foresee the extensiveness of the 2014 online campaign and the most suitable model for approaching European citizens and connecting them to the EU-level politics.