Visual Self-Presentation Strategies of Political Candidates on Social Media Platforms: A Comparative Study

Dennis Steffan


This study investigates the visual self-presentation of political candidates on different social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) in seven Western democracies (Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States). Drawing on Grabe and Bucy’s visual framing approach, I conducted a quantitative content analysis of visual social media posts (N = 2,272) of the top two candidates who ran for the chief executive governmental office in the respective election campaigns. The results reveal that candidates are more likely to use the ideal candidate frame than that of the populist campaigner. The use of visual frames differs significantly among countries, but those differences are limited. It seems that differences among candidates within countries are more pronounced than among countries. The results also indicate that Instagram is the preferred platform for visual self-presentation. This study provides insights into the strategic use of visuals in social media campaigning.


comparative research, election campaigns, political candidates, self-presentation, social media platforms, visual framing

Full Text: