Social Media and the Scottish Independence Referendum 2014

Events and the Generation of Enthusiasm for Yes 1

Authored by: Mark Shephard , Stephen Quinlan

The Routledge Companion to Social Media and Politics

Print publication date:  December  2015
Online publication date:  December  2015

Print ISBN: 9781138860766
eBook ISBN: 9781315716299
Adobe ISBN: 9781317506560


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Ever since the 2008 U.S. presidential election, when Barack Obama’s campaign demonstrated the potential of social media as a useful tool in political campaigning (Harfoush 2009), the use of social media by political campaigns has become more prevalent cross-nationally (e.g. Chen 2010; Lassen and Brown 2010; Gainous and Wagner 2011; Gibson and McAllister 2011; Sudlich and Wall 2011; Vergeer et al. 2011; Ackland and Gibson 2013; Conway et al. 2013; Vergeer and Hermans 2013). For politicians, social media offers a new means of engaging supporters and also an alternative form of soliciting donations (Davis et al. 2009; Straw 2010; Cogburn and Espinoza-Vasquez 2011). We also know that social media has the capacity to mobilise people to participate politically (Cogburn and Espinoza-Vasquez 2011; Bond et al. 2012) and that it could even be a useful tool in helping predict election outcomes (Tumasjan et al. 2010, 2011; Sang and Bos 2012; DiGrazia et al. 2013; Ceron et al. 2014), although its ability to do the latter is contested (Jungherr et al. 2012). Moreover, considering its extensive usage by journalists and news organisations (Fahri 2009; Bruno 2011), social media has gained an increasingly prominent agenda setting capacity, illustrated at the extremes by the 2011 Irish presidential election, which showed that posts on social media do have the propensity to alter voter behaviour and the result of an election in extreme cases (O’Malley 2012; Hogan and Graham 2013). In sum, with social media now such an integral part of daily life for many people (Eurobarometer Flash 2013; Pew Research Centre’s Internet and American Life Project 2014) and many potential benefits accruing from a social media political presence, having some form of social media presence is almost a necessary component of a modern-day campaign.

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