Political communication on the Social Web: Empirical analysis of the strategic framing of politicians, its conditions and effects[Bearbeiten]
Especially young people are increasingly using social media in addition to the classical mass media to inform themselves . It is obvious that this change in usage patterns will have a long-term impact on political discourse and opinion-forming. For political actors such as political parties or individual politicians, however, this development offers a special opportunity: with the help of social media, they can address their messages very quickly and directly to the interested public. They are no longer dependent on interaction with the classical mass media and do not have to follow their attention rules. Since journalists have lost their gatekeeping function on the social web, political actors are no longer dependent on their selection and interpretation. Simultaneously, however, the attention processes in social media follow their own rules. On the one hand, they are determined by media properties such as the multimodality of the Internet, the possibility of synchronous or delayed reception as well as interaction and dialogue. On the other hand, the messages of communication on the Social Web are characterized by macro trends of personalization and entertainment.
Contrary to most formats of the classical mass media, social networking sites do not focus on topics, but on individuals. The users link their profile to the political actors they personally consider relevant. From the perspective of the individual political actor, personal integration into the network of users is advantageous: it strengthens its individual communication power by creating its own "personal publicity". In this context, a politician can easily adopt positions that deviate from the party's line and thus sharpen an individual profile. However, the possibility of differentiation becomes more or less a guideline, because a profile that merely copies the party line offers little added value. However, most users do not primarily use social networking platforms such as Facebook to inform themselves in regard to politics. Rather, the focus of user interest is on maintaining their own social network as well as entertainment, pastime and relaxation. Political communication that wants to be successful on the Internet must adapt to these conditions. It must provide content that satisfies these needs and contain entertaining aspects such as humorous and boulevardesque elements or pop-cultural references. Pure text messages will not attract much interest in this context, but images will generate more attention.
Politicians in the social media can, however, not only be interested in appearing as an entertaining private person or as a political type; the specific selection rules of the political system make it necessary for a politician to also serve political considerations. Any politician has to run on two tracks. On the one hand, (s)he should try to gain the sovereignty over the interpretation of a relevant political issue and, on the other hand, (s)he must find consistent answers for a variety of diverse topics. Both challenges can be analyzed from a framing perspective . Thus, on the one hand, topic-specific and on the other hand, cross-thematic frames (policy style) can be assumed, whereby visual components of the framing must also be included.
The aim of the study presented here is to examine how political actors adapt to the attention processes in social media and how they use these channels for their strategic framing. The central research question is therefore: Which strategic frames do politicians use to position themselves in the political discourse? Furthermore, it will be investigated which differences in the strategic framing of political actors, with different prerequisites (e. g. responsibility for government vs. opposition) show up and whether a different strategic framing leads to differences in the success of communication (measured by the number of likes, shares and comments).
The questions raised will be answered by means of an automated content analysis of political communication on Facebook. Concentrating on a single platform is the first step in this explorative study, since it facilitates sampling and the communication context is constant for all the investigated actors. Facebook is also the most widespread social media platform in Germany (currently 30 million active users per month). The sample consists of all posts from the 998 Bundestag members and candidates who maintain a public Facebook profile of the past 4 years. To date, more than 500,000 posts have been downloaded using the API, most of which contain visual data. The sample will be continuously updated until the federal election in 2017. In addition to the general information on the profile of the politicians (e. g. name, party affiliation, place of residence), the number of likes, shares and comments were collected for each post, which can be evaluated as a communication success of the respective post.
In order to answer the question, both the textual and the visual components of the posts will be analysed. Text analysis is carried out using a dictionary-based approach. To do this, textual characteristics are first defined for each analysis dimension, which make strategic framing visible. In addition to purely linguistic features, the topics discussed in the posts are also surveyed. Image content analysis is performed with the help of image recognition from Google Vision. With this tool, the image content is translated into linguistic representations. The software recognises people, events and objects and provides automatic text recognition. In addition to the questions of content, this innovative use of image recognition software also addresses a methodological question: To what extent is the current state of the art of automated image recognition suitable for the sociological method of visual content analysis?
- Name: Julia Niemann-Lenz
- Institution: Hanover University of Music, Drama & Media
- Kontakt: firstname.lastname@example.org
- ↑ Schmidt, J.-H., Hölig, S., Merten, L. & Hasebrink, U. (2017). Nachrichtennutzung und Meinungsbildung in Zeiten sozialer Medien. Informatik-Spektrum, 40 (4), 358-361.
- ↑ Kamps, K. (2010). Individualisierung in der Netzwelt. In D. Klumpp, H. Kubicek, A. Roßnagel & W. Schulz (Hrsg.), Netzwelt - Wege, Werte, Wandel (S. 329-344). Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg, S. 338
- ↑ Jers, C. (2014). Konsumieren, Partizipieren und Produzieren im Web 2.0. Ein sozial-kognitives Modell zur Erklärung der Nutzungsaktivität. Köln: Herbert von Halem, S. 113
- ↑ Geise, S. (2014). Visuelle Wahlkampfkommunikation, Framing und Priming. In F. Marcinkowski (Hrsg.), Framing als politischer Prozess. Beiträge zum Deutungskampf in der politischen Kommunikation (Schriftenreihe politische Kommunikation und demokratische Öffentlichkeit, Bd. 6, 1. Aufl., S. 211-231). Baden-Baden: Nomos.
- ↑ Entman, R. M. (1993). Framing. Toward Clarification of a Fractured Paradigm. Journal of Communication, 43 (4), 51-58.
- ↑ Schenk, M. (2007). Medienwirkungsforschung (3. Aufl.). Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck.
- ↑ Geise, S. & Baden, C. (2015). Putting the Image Back Into the Frame. Modeling the Linkage Between Visual Communication and Frame-Processing Theory. Communication Theory, 25 (1), 46-69.