Harris, Lisa and Harrigan, Paul
Social media in politics: the ultimate voter engagement tool or simply an echo chamber
Journal of Political Marketing
This paper analyses the role played by social media in shaping political debate during the UK election campaign of May 2010, with a focus on local application within two constituencies in Hampshire. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign was such a digital triumph that it propelled social media onto the radar of marketers within commercial organisations worldwide. Literature in the field of political marketing has recommended the development of relationship marketing strategies in politics (e.g. Henneberg and O’Shaughnessy 2009) but more research is needed to focus on the role of social technologies and to bring theory up to speed with practice (Harris and Lock 2010). Our paper concludes that the UK general election was far being from an “Internet election”. There was little evidence of the methodical and integrated approach to online and offline engagement demonstrated by the Obama campaign. Our case studies suggest that, as in the business world, social media communications can add significant value at the local level when implemented as part of a systematic and long term online and offline relationship building strategy, but are not well suited to short term applications intended to influence the outcome of particular campaigns.
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