Political branding through Facebook : - A study of party branding during the Swedish general elections 2018
Abstract: There have not been many studies of political branding of parties on Facebook yet. The case of political branding on Facebook in the Swedish general elections of 2018 were studied in this thesis, and all eight parties in parliament were included. The aim was to discover more about how parties work differently with Facebook and what they choose to emphasise in their communication towards potential voters. The chosen perspective of branding was the brand identity; the image a party wants to convey to the electorate. Four aspects of branding were in focus for the study; party leader profiling, positioning, negativity in branding and issue ownership. A total of 13 hypotheses were created based on the theories and the Swedish setting and then tested quantitatively on a dataset. All posts made by the eight parliament parties between the 1st of August and the 9th of September, the election campaign period, were included in the study. The results indicate that profiling of statesman qualities could be associated with prime minister candidates, but that personalisation was not mainly carried out by parties with prime minister aspirations. Larger parties were more likely to discuss other parties’ agendas to position themselves than smaller parties. Challenger parties used negative branding more than parties in government, and negative branding could be combined with the party leader in posts. However, negative campaigning was most often used in posts without the party leader. The different handling of negative branding and negative campaigning would suggest that the costs of negative campaigning are perceived as higher. It was mostly smaller parties that choose to profile themselves by focusing on fewer political issues. It was also found that parties dedicated more posts to political issues that they could be described as owning in opinions of the voters.
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