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Internet Campaigning in Germany - Organization, Strategy and Evaluation

Open Panel

Abstract

Internet campaigns have become an obligatory part of election campaigning in the last years, at the latest since Barack Obama‘s trailblazing use of the internet in 2008. Still there are no common standards regarding the questions if a political candidate needs a facebook-profile, a twitter-account or if the candidate‘s web-campaign should be linked with the party‘s campaign. Online social media is a vast field. It is difficult to keep track of only the most important developments and hence campaigners are confronted with the challenge which innovations should be adopted and which can be ignored. In many cases this results into the adoption of a platform or tool without an appropriate strategy of how and why to use it. This study tries to examine how candidates and campaigners in Germany deal with this challenge and how online campaigns are organized, composed and conducted. It will show the results of a series of qualitative expert interviews conducted with two groups directly involved in the process of campaigning in the German federal election in 2009. Group A are candidates or members of their staff responsible for campaigning. Group B are external service providers responsible for composing and conduction of the internet campaign. The results will illustrate the process of how internet campaigns are composed, which reasons and strategies lead to the use of certain internet platforms and how results were evaluated.