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Politicians across Western democracies are increasingly adopting and experimenting with Twitter, particularly during election time. The purpose of this article is to investigate how candidates are using it during an election campaign. The aim is to create a typology of the various ways in which candidates behaved on Twitter. Our research, which included a content analysis of tweets (n = 26,282) from all twittering Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates (n = 416) during the 2010 UK General Election campaign, focused on four aspects of tweets: type, interaction, function and topic. By examining candidates' twittering behaviour, the authors show that British politicians mainly used Twitter as a unidirectional form of communication. However, there were a group of candidates who used it to interact with voters by, for example, mobilizing, helping and consulting them, thus tapping into the potential Twitter offers for facilitating a closer relationship with citizens.
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Keywords: Twitter; UK; content analysis; election campaign; politicians; social media

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Journalism Studies and Media, University of Groningen, Oude Kijk in 't Jatstraat 26, PO Box 716 Groningen, 9700, AS, The Netherlands

Publication date: June 1, 2013

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