Political Communication in the Age of the Like Button: Obama’s 2012 Facebook Campaign

What goes into the making of an academic paper? Roman Gerodimos and Jákup Justinussen talk about their study of the Obama 2012 campaign on Facebook, and reflect on the process of crafting a journal article.

The research the film was based on examined the role of social media in political communication, focusing specifically on Barack Obama’s Facebook campaign in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election.  Although there is a growing body of literature on online forms of participation, little research exists on the role of social buttons on Facebook (like, comment, and share) as tools of political voice.

By exploring these narrative features, the research looks at how people engage with particular political messages.  The content posted to Obama’s Facebook page in the run up to the 2012 Presidential Election was analysed, along with a detailed measurement of all user interactions with each post.

The analysis found that the Obama campaign used Facebook as a tool of top-down promotion, focusing on Obama’s personality and as a means of strategically guiding followers to act, rather than as a means of bottom-up empowerment or hybridized coproduction. However, followers engaged selectively with campaign messages and often interacted more with policy-oriented posts than with promotional ones.