230 | 30, pp. 229-248 | doxa.comunicación

January-June of 2020

Communicative strategies on Facebook: personalisation and community building in the 2016 elections in Spain

ISSN: 1696-019X / e-ISSN: 2386-3978

1. Introduction

In recent years, electoral campaigns have been redefined, mainly due to the emergence of social networks (Gil de Zúñiga, Huber & Strauß, 2018; Woolley, Limperos & Oliver, 2010). The potential of these platforms in which ease of participation and interaction prevails, enables politicians to produce and disseminate their own messages autonomously (Castells, 2009; Parmelee & Bichard, 2011). Likewise, these platforms allow them to maintain and create their own image, promote circles of support, and relate directly to other users, thus exercising a much more direct influence over citizens (Chadwick, 2013; Túñez & Sixto, 2011). Social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube have established a new communication context between political parties and their voters, thus becoming preferential tools in the communication strategies of parties and political leaders (Bruns & Burgess, 2012; Jungherr, Schoen & Jürgens, 2015).

Previous research has focused mainly on examining the way that politicians use Twitter (Casero-Ripollés, 2018). At the international level, what stands out are studies focusing on the analysis of use dynamics and the thematic agenda disseminated by parties and political leaders on this platform (Enli & Skogerbø, 2013; Graham, Jackson & Broersma, 2016; Grusell & Nord, 2012; Jackson & Lilleker, 2011; Jungherr, 2014; Posegga & Jungherr, 2019; Vergeer, Hermans & Sams, 2013). In Spain, literature on the subject is extensive and deals with two facets, which are the study of general election campaigns (López-Abellán, 2012; Jivkova-Semova, Requeijo-Rey & Padilla-Castillo, 2017; Zugasti-Azagra & Pérez-González, 2016; García-Ortega & Zugasti-Azagra, 2018), in addition to regional or local elections (Criado, Martínez-Fuentes & Silván,


Social media have become fundamental platforms of influence during election periods. They are forums where politicians promote their agendas and programs, encourage mobilisation, and call on the public to vote, although they rarely engage in dialogue with citizens. The aim of this study is to delve deeper into the case of Facebook and evaluate the functions that Spanish politicians attribute to this platform by using quantitative content analysis of all the posts published by the main political parties and their candidates in the 2016 Spanish election campaign. The results indicate that campaign events take up a significant part of the activity, and that interaction with the audience is low. There is also an upward trend in personalisation and community building, strategies that can help to gain influence by showing a more human side of the candidates and appealing to the values and ideology of the party.


Political communication; election campaign; Facebook; personalisation; community of followers.


Las redes sociales se han convertido en plataformas esenciales para ejercer influencia en periodos electorales. Son foros donde los actores políticos promocionan sus agendas y programas, animan a la movilización y piden el voto, aunque rara vez dialogan con la ciudadanía. El objetivo de este estudio es profundizar en el caso de Facebook y evaluar las funciones que le atribuyen los políticos españoles, mediante el análisis de contenido cuantitativo de todas las publicaciones difundidas por los principales partidos y sus candidatos en la campaña electoral de 2016. Los resultados indican que los actos de campaña copan el grueso de la actividad y que la interacción con la audiencia es escasa. Se aprecia, además, una tendencia al alza de la personalización y la construcción de comunidad, estrategias que pueden permitir ganar influencia mostrando el lado más humano de los candidatos y apelando a los valores e ideología del partido.

Palabras claves:

Comunicación política; campaña electoral; Facebook; personalización; comunidad de seguidores.

Received: 24/12/2019 - Accepted: 28/02/2020

Recibido: 24/12/2019 - Aceptado: 28/02/2020