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Twitter - Campaigning:
The usage of Social media in contemporary political campaigns
Written by: Moritz Borchardt (Student Nr: 23506) Mühlhäuser Straße 2 99092 Erfurt Phone: 0361 2192427 Email: Moritz.Borchardt@stud.uni-erfurt.de
6. 4.Index 1. Statistical Data . 2. Introduction The professional use of Twitter The problem of authenticity Measuring success in Twitter German parties using Twitter Conclusion and Recommendation 1 2 3 4 5 7 Annex: Sources. 5. 3.
php?factsheet 2 https://twitter. It was eventually fueled and extended by the release of Facebook in 20041 and Twitter in 20062. The intention of this paper is to observe the possibilities of using Twitter for political ends and the extent to which Twitter is being used by established German parties. The most crucial aspect of this mentality is the emphasis on openness in every part of society. led to various new possibilities for actors in the economy. Having been a relatively secluded part of internet-society at first. one article will describe the general problem of authenticity that is inherent to any social media. initially there will be a short overview about Twitter itself and its potential to be used in corporate. both Facebook and Twitter created numerous ways of promotion. In Germany. In enabling this newfound way of communicating. social media became more and more well known with the establishment of the web 2. In doing so. This will be followed by a short overview of success in social media and its measurement in microblogs like Twitter. The potential use of social media for political campaigns became obvious when Barack Obama led his 2008 presidential campaign using the tools of the web and in doing won seemingly apolitical people into joining his cause. 1 http://www. In the final part of this paper.1 I.com/press/info. Introduction With the emergence of social media in the last ten years.0. Furthermore.com/about#about . newsgroups etc. This development of a read-write culture in the internet. In addition. which implies the capability of changing broad areas of both professional and personal life. politics and social life. These new services expanded the possible modes of virtual communication from comparatively slow articles directed at a limited target group to real-time updates and the (digital) public at large. especially concerning entrepreneurial outreach and political communication.facebook. that was the first after Obamas success via social media. the presented argument will be summarized and a recommendation for future political actors will be given on account for the given data. the world witnessed the rise of a whole new school of thought. professional ways. an article will observe the general use of Twitter by German political parties. consisting of blogs. the first use of Twitter in an electoral campaign took place in the hessian elections in early 2009.
3 Microblogging and Twitter got remarkable publicity during the first months of 2009. Twitter eventually introduced sending updates via text messaging.techcrunch. The second possible approach of using microblogs is to get feedback through communicating with customers and the interested public. it can be used for outreach and thus.com/insidetwitter/ (2009) . critical opinions are presented and can be discussed. Twitter can be used in a twofold manner.5 Concerning both professional and political actors. By practicing this second use. when it was used in various occasions such as the emergency landing of a plane in Hudson River. First of all. By this. In political practice it is currently popular to use Twitter as a short-term newsletter for any occasion. which use Twitter as an integral part or even embed Twitter to websites. 3 http://en. it was possible to tweet from virtually any digital medium as long as there was an application to do so.ca. in using mircoblogs. as the actor and the public sphere behave around each other. its users were a small community of inter-connected people that developed slowly but surely.org/wiki/Micro-blogging 4 http://www.wikipedia. In doing so short term changes can be announced. So. 4 Following up to these events. which almost certainly will have some influence on their reputation.sysomos. to promote new products or political statements. both professional and personal branding can take place.com/2009/01/15/plane-crashes-in-hudson-first-pictures-on-flickrtumblr-twitpic/ 5 Alex Cheng et al.5 Million within the first five months of 2009 with a peak of growth in March 2009. errors can be detected before they inflict damage and the gap between professionals and 'the people' decreases. so that it can be used from virtually anywhere.: Inside Twitter http://www. A crucial aspect to the success of Twitter was its application programming interface (API). The API allowed programmers to create applications. Twitter grew from 3. professionals can gain new possibilities of quick and variable outreach as well as new channels of communication with the audience.2 II. even via competing products like Identi. So. This feature enabled users to twitter from a variety of platforms. The professional use of Twitter When Twitter was first released in March 2006.15 Million users to 11. as will be seen in the course of this paper. events made public and internal meetings be fixed.
7 This feature has the chance of increasing the credibility of Twitter-accounts although the process of verification has not yet been disclosed. Not doing any damage to the party.00. or not. Apart from being well or mal intended. One case of a fake-account that tricked the public into believing that it was real was @muentefering that claimed to be the Twitter-account of the head of Germany's social-democratic party (SPD). a hack on musician Britney Spears's account announced her dead on june 29th. that neither verified.3 III. On the other hand.com/2009/06/29/twitpicsicherheitsluecke-britney-spears-falsche-todesmeldung/ . Even though some politicians may be able to create a reputation of tweeting themselves.html 9 Sacha Lobo: Twitpic-Sicherheitslücke http://saschalobo. html 7 Pete Cashmere: Twitter Launches Verified Accounts http://mashable.6 Being aware of this problem. Franz Müntefering. users of microblogs will have to be skeptical but willing to trust politicians and other people of public interest to be who they claim to be. politicians who use it have to face the problem of authenticity. the account was tolerated by the SPD. Berlin 2008 http://www. In the end.fcgi/2008/0913/seite1/0091/index.9 This shows that even presumably safe accounts can still be manipulated. political actors are likely to have fake-accounts using their name. these persons of interest will have to gain the trust of their followers by behaving in a credible way. 6 Marin Majica: Aus dem Herzen der SPD. As soon as they reach a certain level of popularity. nor falsified its authenticity. Governing officials most likely have fake-accounts driven by the political opposition that are publishing satirical updates contrary to the person’s personal opinion.629147.bin/dump. Twitter launched a beta-version of 'Verified Accounts' in mid June 2009.de/berlinerzeitung/archiv/. every tweet of public persons who actually use microblogs can be put into question because it can never be fully solved whether someone is twittering himself. The problem of authenticity Apart from these chances that Twitter offers to anyone willing to use it.1518. Berliner Zeitung. in all possibility those might be fake or written by one of the person's employees.spiegel.com/2009/06/11/twitterverified-accounts-2/ 8 Richard Meusers: Twitter plant Gütesiegel für Promis http://www.de/netzwelt/web/0.8 Still being in a beta-version of Verified Accounts.berlinonline.
which is technically simple. the public would be informed about the origin of tweets. it might be near to impossible for some of them to regularly tweet themselves and thus. This can be visualized by measuring retweets. Furthermore. or tweet via ghostwriter and still be 'authentic'. but instead is often exercised through commenting on abbreviated tweets or @user references to discuss recent matters like political press-releases etc. One possible option to increase transparency would be. delegating the use of Twitter or tweeting indirectly can be the obvious choice for public actors to make. Depending on the rank of twittering politicians.. Regarding retweets. The statistical applications scarcely go beyond the measurement of average tweets per day and the relative amount of @user replies. Measuring success in Twitter General success in Twitter can be described by the size of one users incoming and outgoing contacts as well as his frequency of twittering. in which Twitter grew significantly and so cover the even more public months of tweeting and being (re-)tweeted . not just the extent of the network. Also. though. In doing so. but in the same time. but also the communicative behavior in terms of @usermessages sent and received by accounts are of major importance to display interconnectivity. Given these presuppositions. or use approaches that cannot be effectively used in combination with different statistics. Additionally.4 Another question to be posed in this context is if politicians can delegate the use of mircoblogs. to indicate the origins of tweets by adding hints to updates by the staff. the accounts in question would still be able to frequently communicate with the public in the name of its owner. Mobilization does not just happen via forwarding other user's tweets. there are only few services that use them and even if so. there are naturally few statistical surveys that include most of the first half year 2009. the basic statistical patterns are sometimes unclear. Consequently this paper cannot claim to be statistically correct or deliver highly consistent data. IV. to maintain public interest over time. the statistical tools and existing data of the web (in early July 2009) are insufficient for scientific research. The most valuable datasets that can be used nonetheless are from . the existing concept needs to be extended by the aspect of influence on other users. yet still not sufficient. Concerning political campaigning via Twitter.
His authenticity was later damaged when one of his campaigning advisers updated his own account and @tsghessen with the exact same tweet within a very short time.com and www. The second use of Twitter in virtual campaigns is making political statements within the 140 character-limit of Twitter. the first german elections where Twitter was used as a political tool were the electoral campaigns in Hessia in January 2009. Twitter can be used to communicate political content. so that it can be 10 Markus Beckedahl: Wenn Politiker mit Ghostwritern twittern http://netzpolitik. became more common. V. This option of communicating is closest to the ways of traditional media. In the first months of 2009. During these elections.com. all major parties used Twitter for political outreach. They still lack the option of showing clusters of users in their respective twitter-environment and thus the possibilities of visualizing general influence on other users of Twitter. these newsletters are used to make articles public. prohibiting long and abstract statements. Thus. this option of using Twitter politically was rarely used. German parties using Twitter The idea of using microblogs in political campaigns in Germany was inspired by Barack Obama's virtual campaigning during the 2008 presidential elections in the USA. and social-democratic candidate Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel (@tsghessen) made himself a brand by establishing the credibility of twittering himself.tweetstats. but in the aftermath of the European elections in early June 2009.10 Theoretically spoken.5 www. In practice.org/2009/wennpolitiker-mit-ghostwriter-twittern/ (2009) . which carry out the party’s values and are the most common use of contemporary German Twitter-campaigning and can be estimated at 50 percent of the overall of German political tweets send by parties and non-private persons. or act politically in three ways: First of all. This limit forces political actors to make short comments.retweetrank. This again stresses the point of basic uncertainty in digital societies. it can be used as a newsletter that publishes political news and links to websites with further information. and can be combined to gain insights on single accounts. where breaking news and earlier special editions of newspapers were produced to keep the public up to date.
@tsghessen uses Twitter mainly to post personal updates. Never been so angry about a politician. Thirdly. Additionally. Both the already mentioned @tsghessen and member of parliament @volker_beck (green party) are examples for microblogging politicians of status. what they do etc. there are representatives from all political levels and parties. Differing from him. but responded to other user's tweets in around about 30% of his tweets. That's irresponsible talk!)11. Examples for such are @cdu_news. Due to the many elections taking place in 2009. Among the politicians actively using Twitter. by using Twitter in this way. promote his affection to coffee and only uses it on rare occasions to give political statements like “Zu Guttenberg ist echt ein industriepolitisches Irrlicht. he rarely posts links (with only one link from 15/04/09 to 15/05/09). Twitter can be used to give status reports of politicians about where they are. These accounts can be divided into two kinds of accounts: The first kind of accounts belongs to party organs. Being limited to personalized accounts (accounts that are used by politicians instead of party organs).. Volker Beck uses Twitter mainly to interact with other users (more than 77% of his tweets from 15/04/09 to 15/05/09 are either @-responses or retweets) and barely posts status reports.6 estimated at 20 percent of the overall of German political tweets send by parties and non-private persons. politicians can share random details of their lives with the public and thus create emotional closeness with their supporters and talk about recent or upcoming events. The second kind of accounts is held by individual politicians and used for both political outreach and personal comments. Unverantwortliches Geschwaetz! ” (rough translation: Zu Guttenberg (german Federal Minister for Economy and Technology) is not to be taken seriously in terms of industrial policy. In doing so. @spdbawue or @JuLisThueringen. that use Twitter in different ways. he too has established himself in the German internet 11 http://twitter. Selten so sauer auf einen Politiker gewesen. These accounts are primarily used to inform about recent or upcoming campaigning events and to link to articles promoting the parties opinions. local chapters or youth organizations of the present parties in parliament. this kind of tweeting can be estimated at 30% of active political tweets.com/tsghessen/statuses/1912873506 . all of Germany's mayor parties have started to use Twitter regularly and created a wide range of accounts.
that consider themselves politically left. especially in Twitter. which is inherent to any social media. Twitter has still an aura of being dubious.de/international/germany/0.00. These are things. as the shortage of messages makes it near to impossible to discover well-made fake accounts.status reports. especially the green party. but not in a more personal. yet not suprising. even before they were officially announced. what makes Twitter unique. it is remarkable. but is slightly more important in Twitter. This is the interaction with other users. that political campaigning via Twitter is still in a very early stage of development. but it is not.12 Also. that Twitter is mainly used in interactive ways by political parties. Tweeting newsletters or status reports is still very useful to share informations and inform about upcoming or recent events. but actually uses Twitter to get feedback on his actions and political points of view. Twitter itself suffers from the problem of authenticity. and youth-organizations throughout the landscape of politics.7 community and been using Twitter politically in a variety of ways by simply 'being online'. Conclusion and Recommendation This paper has shown. by discussing matters with and getting feedback from the public and also by stimulating the public into getting involved and actively convincing others.html . In Germany. than in other media. Twitter is still not commonly used in ways that differ from traditional media newsletters or Facebook.spiegel. when the results of the elections for the german president were first published via Twitter. due to its just recently discovered values and chances. Although it has become well-discussed by other media. they basically have to be online and interact with other users. This could be seen in the so called german Twittergate. VI. private way like @tsghessen but creating a professional account that interacts with others and adds both links and statements for political outreach. 12 Spiegel-Online: Twittergate http://www. as he not just posts random articles and links. that german political parties have yet to learn when it comes to digital political communication and interaction.1518.627936. If political actors want to use social media to their benefit. Volker Beck is a very fitting example.
wikipedia.de/berlinerzeitung/archiv/.html − − − Pete Richard Sacha Markus Cashmere: Meusers: Lobo: Twitter Twitter Launches plant Verified für Accounts Promis http://mashable.com .techcrunch.8 Annex Sources: − − − − http://www.fcgi/2008/0913/seite1/0091/i ndex.com/insidetwitter/ (2009) Marin Majica: Aus dem Herzen der SPD.spiegel.com/press/info.com/2009/01/15/plane-crashes-in-hudson-first-pictures-on-flickrtumblr-twitpic/ Alex Cheng et al.com/tsghessen/statuses/1912873506 www.1518.sysomos.com/2009/06/29/twitpicmit Ghostwritern twittern sicherheitsluecke-britney-spears-falsche-todesmeldung/ − Beckedahl: Politiker http://netzpolitik.00.php?factsheet https://twitter.berlinonline.html − Twitpic-Sicherheitslücke Wenn http://saschalobo.tweetstats.bin/dump. Berliner Zeitung.: Inside Twitter http://www.com/about#about http://en.retweetrank.com/2009/06/11/twitter-verified-accounts-2/ − Gütesiegel http://www.facebook.org/2009/wenn-politiker-mit-ghostwriter-twittern/ (2009) − − − http://twitter.de/netzwelt/web/0.com www. Berlin 2008 http://www.629147.org/wiki/Micro-blogging http://www.
09 to 15.05.9 Annex Statistical Data Statistical data of Volker Beck and Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel from 15.04.Statements News 2 -ers Tweets Tweets1 reports 2 2 6/8/09 Volker Beck 3612 111 103 72 32 14 0 59 1 8 67 17 6 14 8 Thorsten 3335 SchäferGümbel 1 2 answers to multiple users in one tweet were counted as one non. or news .@user or re-tweets could be attributed to one or multiple of the categories: personal status-report.09 Politician Follow Overall @user. political statement.Retweets Links Status.
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