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Although politicians, scholars and campaigners claim that social media such as Facebook and Twitter profoundly change election campaigns, still little is known about the place of social media in the overall campaign mix and its use compared to traditional campaigning channels like the mass media. Cluster analysis of a representative survey among the candidates in the 2011 parliamentary election in Denmark shows that the candidates can be divided into three groups with different campaign mixes: a group which mainly communicates through the traditional mass media, a group which emphasizes social media, and a group which puts low emphasis on media in their campaign. The place of social media in the campaign mix of Danish candidates can be explained by access to the mainstream media and incentives for individual candidates. Traditional media remain the most important communication channel in the Danish campaign, but primarily for candidates who are newsworthy due to their experience and incumbency status. These candidates use social media to generate coverage in the traditional mass media. Challengers and less experienced candidates are more likely to use social media to compensate for lack of attention from the mainstream media, in particular when they are involved in intra-party competition. It is concluded that social media are integrated into Danish campaign mix according to the incentive structure of the electoral system and the media logic which characterizes modern campaigns.
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Keywords: Facebook; Twitter; campaigning; election; politicians; social media

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Center for Journalism, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark

Publication date: June 1, 2013

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