Personalization in e-campaigning: A cross-national comparison of personalization strategies used on candidate websites of 17 countries in EP elections 2009

  • Hermans L
  • Vergeer M
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Abstract

Candidate websites provide politicians with opportunities to present themselves in an individual way. To a greater or lesser extent politicians share personal information in their biographies and provide options to connect with citizens by putting links on their websites to their social networking sites (SNS). In this paper, although acting on different levels, both strategies are indicated as forms of personalization strategies used by politicians in their online communication. This cross-national study explores the use of these strategies on candidate websites in 17 countries during the elections for the European Parliament (EP) in June 2009. This is a comparative study of the personalized and individualized campaigning styles used during elections. Findings show that three general dimensions of personalization can be distinguished; ‘professional’, ‘home and family’ and ‘personal preferences’. While the first two dimensions show a higher level of use among candidates, the third dimension on private information is hardly used. Results show also that countries from Central Europe inform their citizens more about their professional and personal circumstances, and Mediterranean countries use personalization strategies the least. Furthermore, the overall findings show that SNS were not frequently used during the 2009 e-campaigning. West European countries use links to SNS more frequently than countries in other regions. In general these findings suggest cross-cultural differences regarding online personalized political campaigning.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Cross-national comparative research
  • European elections
  • e-campaigning
  • personalization of politics

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