OVERCOMING THE LEARNING CURVE: THE USE OF FACEBOOK BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
Lothamer, Lucas J
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This study examines the use of Facebook by members of Congress as a tool for reelection. Specifically, the study looks at the various types of posts congressional members use, such as campaign advertisements or policy positions, and looks for explanatory variables to explain the usage of the social media by members of Congress. To conduct this research the Facebook pages of a sample of Representatives and Senators were examined with a bivariate and multivariate analysis. Overall congressional members employed a distinct strategy in using their campaign pages. Senators up for reelection and in competitive races were more likely to use campaign and negative attack posting. Representatives in competitive races were more likely to make campaign posts but tended to avoid making negative posts about their opponents. Congressional members did not show any signs of using their government official page as a resource for reelection. This was expected, although some observed behavior shows congressional members’ knowledge over Facebook is incomplete. Only a few members used Facebook to promote fundraising or volunteer events such as phone banking and block walking. This suggests that while congressional members seek to capitalize on Facebook as a tool for reelection aims their knowledge of the social media is incomplete.