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‘Social media logic’ meets professional norms: Twitter hashtags usage by journalists and politicians

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Social media is characterized by a set of principles defined as ‘social media logic’ [van Dijck, J., & Poell, T. (2013). Understanding social media logic. Media and Communication, 1, 2–14. doi:10.12924/mac2013.01010002], derived from the theory of ‘media logic’ developed in the era of mass media [Altheide, D. L., & Snow, R. P. (1979). Media logic. London: Sage.]. This article explores how ‘social media logic’ impacts on two interconnected but yet distinct professions, journalism and politics, by analysing one of the key principles of social media logics, namely ‘connectivity’, an advanced strategy of algorithmically connecting users to content and other users in social media [van Dijck, J., & Poell, T. (2013). Understanding social media logic. Media and Communication, 1, 2–14. doi:10.12924/mac2013.01010002]. The operationalization of connectedness in this study is the Twitter hashtag, as it is the most common feature for users to connect and relate to within a larger networked discourse [Bruns, A., & Burgess, J. (2015). Twitter hashtags from ad hoc to calculated publics. In N. Rambukkana (Ed.), Hashtag publics: The power and politics of discursive networks (pp. 13–27). New York, NY: Peter Lang.]. The empirical material consists of tweets posted by 10 Norwegian politicians and 10 journalists, selected on their level of activity on Twitter. The tweets are analysed with the emphasis on the frequency and content of the hashtags, and the methodological design is comparative between the journalists and the politicians. A key finding is that there are significant differences between how journalists and politicians use hashtags, but that they both use mass media hashtags to reach outside their follower networks. Consequently, this demonstrates that journalists’ and politicians’ use of social media is closely connected to their professional norms, and that the ‘social media logic’ is still related to the ‘media logic’ of mainstream and broadcast media.
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Keywords: Social media; Twitter; hashtags; journalism; political communication

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Media and Communication, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

Publication date: August 3, 2018

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