Does Scotland ‘like’ this? Social media use by political parties and candidates in Scotland during the 2010 UK General Election.
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BAXTER, G. and MARCELLA, R., 2012. Does Scotland ‘like’ this? Social media use by political parties and candidates in Scotland during the 2010 UK General Election. Libri, 62 (2), pp. 109-124.
This paper reports the results of a study which investigated the use of social media by political parties and candidates in Scotland as part of their campaign for election to the UK Parliament in 2010. The study consisted of an analysis of the content of the social media sites belonging to parties and candidates standing in the 59 Scottish constituencies. During the fiveweek campaign period preceding the election date of 6 May 2010, the content of 81 Twitter accounts, 78 Facebook pages and 44 blogs was analysed in order to identify the ways in which political actors provided information to, and interacted with, potential voters. While parties and candidates appeared relatively keen to be seen embracing social media, they were used primarily for the one-way flow of information to the electorate. There was little direct, two-way engagement, and a general reluctance to respond to ‘difficult’ policy questions or critical comments posted by the public. The information provided also frequently lacked any meaningful policy comment. The followers, ‘friends’ and ‘likers’ of these sites seemed to be largely family, friends and associates of the candidates, or party members and activists. Thus, the political actors appeared to be simply ‘preaching to the converted’ rather than providing opportunities for objective debate with the wider electorate.