This article concerns whether and how political candidates adopt social media in their election campaigns. For campaigns, the openness and interactivity of social media tools bring about risks in terms of losing control over the message. Departing from a cost-benefit perspective, this study addresses the question as to whether certain groups of candidates - differing in incumbency status, party type, gender, generation and urbanization level of the constituency - are more prone to adopt and utilize new social media tools and practices. In order to study how candidates approach social media in an early stage when the benefits are uncertain and the risks are apparent, candidate blogging in the 2007 Finnish national elections is examined. The findings show that the candidates generally were not ready to pursue the full potential of blogs and thereby to accept the risks associated with this open, interactive and personalized way of campaigning. Rather, the candidates took a cautious approach by not engaging extensively in the social media features and practices. However, female candidates and candidates not representing major parties were more likely to utilize a broader range of social media features and practices. The study adds support to the claim that campaigns do not simply adopt and utilize novel social media tools with the purpose of being innovative; they assess risks, costs and benefits. Social media do not alter the basic need of campaigns to control the message and to avoid stress in the campaign organization.
- BLOGS -- Political aspects
- COMPUTER network resources
- FINLAND -- Politics & government -- 1981-
- POLITICAL campaigns
- POLITICAL candidates
- POLITICAL parties
- SOCIAL media -- Political aspects