Popularity on Facebook During Election Campaigns: An Analysis of Issues and Emotions in Parties’ Online Communication

Sina Blassnig, Linards Udris, Anna Staender, Daniel Vogler


Successful communication strategies on social media are of great concern for parties’ election campaigns. Research increasingly focuses on identifying which factors promote popularity cues (e.g., Likes or Shares) as indicators of success. However, existing studies have neglected the role of issues in multiparty environments. Furthermore, it is still unclear whether positive or negative emotions are the stronger drivers of user engagement. We investigate parties’ emphasis on political issues and emotions as success factors in their election campaign communication on Facebook. We analyze the Facebook pages of the 6 largest parties in Germany and Austria before the respective national elections in 2017. We find that parties’ top issues, identity issues, and positive and negative emotions increase popularity cues. Yet these factors trigger different types of reactions: Whereas Shares are triggered by the use of top issues and positive emotions, Comments are evoked by identity issues and predominantly by negative emotions.


social media, political communication, popularity cues, political parties, elections

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