Weapons of Mass Consumption: Social and Digital Media in Political Campaigns

  • Andrew Hughes
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Political Marketing and Management book series (Palgrave Studies in Political Marketing and Management)


Social media is the latest and by far the most effective weapon of mass communication and it has been quickly adopted by political parties all around the world. This chapter delves into how digital and social media has been adopted and modified to be used as a campaign and relationship building strategy. The use of apps, such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, in moving voters from passive to active stakeholders will be examined.

There is also a discussion on how the use of database applications, such as NationBuilder, and data analytic firms, such as Cambridge Analytica, is transforming political campaigning and advertising by enabling parties and candidates of all sizes to be able to transform raw data from social media and mobile platforms into information on strategy, voters and advertising.


Facebook Twitter YouTube Social media Voter 


  1. Aaker, J. L. (1997). Dimensions of brand personality. Journal of Marketing Research, 34(3), 347–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bennett, W. L. (2012). The personalization of politics: Political identity, social media, and changing patterns of participation. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 644(1), 20–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bennett, W. L., & Segerberg, A. (2012). The logic of connective action: Digital media and the personalization of contentious politics. Information, Communication & Society, 15(5), 739–768.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Boynton, G. R. (2009). What if you had a choice? Paper presented at the 2009 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Toronto, ON, Canada.Google Scholar
  5. Brader, T. (2005). Striking a responsive chord: How political ads motivate and persuade voters by appealing to emotions. American Journal of Political Science, 49(2), 388–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bu, J., Tan, S., Chen, C., Wang, C., Wu, H., Zhang, L., & He, X. (2010, October). Music recommendation by unified hypergraph: Combining social media information and music content. In Proceedings of the 18th ACM international conference on Multimedia (pp. 391–400). ACM.Google Scholar
  7. Chen, P. J. (2008). Australian political parties’ use of YouTube 2007. Communication, Politics & Culture, 41(1), 114.Google Scholar
  8. Christensen, H. S. (2011). Political activities on the Internet: Slacktivism or political participation by other means? First Monday, 16(2).Google Scholar
  9. Church, S. (2008). A content analyses of presidential candidates’ video clips on YouTube. Doctoral dissertation, Master thesis, Department of Communication of Southern Utah University.Google Scholar
  10. Eagar, T., Dann, S., & Dann, S. (2016). Classifying the narrated# selfie: Genre typing human-branding activity. European Journal of Marketing, 50(9/10), 1835–1857.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fayard, A. L., & Weeks, J. (2007). Photocopiers and water-coolers: The affordances of informal interaction. Organization Studies, 28(5), 605–634.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Glenn, C. L. (2015). Activism or “slacktivism?”: Digital media and organizing for social change. Communication Teacher, 29(2), 81–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hughes, A. (2007). Personal brands: An exploratory analysis of personal brands in Australian political marketing. In Australia and New Zealand Marketing Academy Conference, 3–5 December 2007, University of Otago, Dunedin.Google Scholar
  14. Klotz, R. J. (2010). The sidetracked 2008 YouTube senate campaign. Journal of Information Technology & Politics, 7(2–3), 110–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lau, R. R., Sigelman, L., & Rovner, I. B. (2007). The effects of negative political campaigns: A meta analytic reassessment. Journal of Politics, 69(4), 1176–1209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lovejoy, K., & Saxton, G. D. (2012). Information, community, and action: How nonprofit organizations use social media. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 17(3), 337–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. McLuhan, M. (1994). Understanding media: The extensions of man. MIT Press.Google Scholar
  18. Page, B. I. (1996). The mass media as political actors. PS: Political Science and Politics, 29(1), 20–24.Google Scholar
  19. Pieters, R., & Wedel, M. (2004). Attention capture and transfer in advertising: Brand, pictorial, and text-size effects. Journal of Marketing, 68(2), 36–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ricke, L. (2010). A new opportunity for democratic engagement: The CNN-YouTube presidential candidate debates. Journal of Information Technology & Politics, 7(2–3), 202–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ridout, T. N., Franklin Fowler, E., & Branstetter, J. (2010). Political advertising in the 21st century: The rise of the YouTube ad. Paper prepared for the American Political Science Association Conference.Google Scholar
  22. Robertson, S. P., Vatrapu, R. K., & Medina, R. (2010). Online video “friends” social networking: Overlapping online public spheres in the 2008 U.S. Presidential election. Journal of Information Technology & Politics, 7, 182–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Rossiter, J. R., & Bellman, S. (2005). Marketing communications: Theory and applications. London: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  24. Rotman, D., Vieweg, S., Yardi, S., Chi, E., Preece, J., Shneiderman, B., … Glaisyer, T. (2011, May). From slacktivism to activism: Participatory culture in the age of social media. In CHI’11 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 819–822). ACM.Google Scholar
  25. Sashi, C. M. (2012). Customer engagement, buyer-seller relationships, and social media. Management Decision, 50(2), 253–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Savoie, H. (2009). John McCain gets BarackRoll’d: Authorship, culture, and community on YouTube. ScholarWorks@ UMass Amherst, 177.Google Scholar
  27. Schupp, H. T., Cuthbert, B. N., Bradley, M. M., Cacioppo, J. T., Ito, T., & Lang, P. J. (2000). Affective picture processing: The late positive potential is modulated by motivational relevance. Psychophysiology, 37(2), 257–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Shobeiri, S., Laroche, M., & Mazaheri, E. (2013). Shaping e-retailer’s website personality: The importance of experiential marketing. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 20(1), 102–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Spiller, L. D., & Bergner, J. (2011). Branding the candidate: Marketing strategies to win your vote. ABC-CLIO.Google Scholar
  30. Statista. (2016). YouTube statistics and facts. Retrieved December 20, 2017, from
  31. Tan, E. (2007). Look out, ’08 candidates: YouTube users are watching. Advertising Age, 78(19), 4.Google Scholar
  32. Williams, C. B. (2009). What is a social network worth? Facebook and Vote Share in the 2008 presidential primaries. In Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association.Google Scholar
  33. Winograd, M., & Hais, M. D. (2008). Millennial makeover: MySpace, YouTube, and the future of American politics. Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Xiang, Z., & Gretzel, U. (2010). Role of social media in online travel information search. Tourism Management, 31(2), 179–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew Hughes
    • 1
  1. 1.Research School of ManagementAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

Personalised recommendations