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The electoral campaign through Social Media. Case Study – 2014 Presidential elections in Romania

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Developing a real network-society, the political communication through Social Media is no longer performing unidirectional, the political actors and the journalists do not have the same influence on the masses, as they had in the classic systems of political communication and the online opinion leaders have become key-factors in all this equation. In this sense, the main purpose of online campaign staff is to empower fans to interact with the posts of the candidate. Thus, any kind of feedback - like, comment or share – decentralizes the political message in social groups of fans, where he has a greater influence than the political actor. Once the message is discussed in social groups, strong ties (friends) of the fans are persuaded to become, in their turn, fans of the political actor and the conversion rate increase and this process will continue as long as interaction rate is high. In this paper, we aim to analyse the communication process through Facebook in the electoral campaign for the 2014 Romanian Presidential Elections and to compare the level of support for candidates on Facebook and for the real vote.
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Sfera
Politicii
VOLUM XXIII

1 (183)

EDITORIAL
Alexandru Radu

2014

Silvia Rotaru
Dan Mihalache
Iulia Huiu
Daniel Buti
Florin Grecu

!
Mihai Covaci
"!#!"!
$%
&&'
$()
Andreea-Iustina Tuzu
Adrian-Cosmin Canae
Ionela Gavril
Viorel Mionel



!!
(!*!#!
2014
[Grandville]
EDITORIAL BOARD
Călin Anastasiu
Consilier Principal al Preşedintelui Societăţii Române de
Radiodifuziune, Bucureşti, România
Daniel Chirot
University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
Dennis John Deletant
Professor, University College, London, United Kingdom
Alexandru Florian
Profesor, Facultatea de Știinţe Politice,
Universitatea Creștină „Dimitrie Cantemir”, București
Institutul Naţional pentru Studierea Holocaustului din
România „Elie Wiesel”
Anneli Ute Gabanyi
Cercetător asociat al Institutului German pentru
Probleme Internaţionale şi de Securitate (Stiftung
Wissenschaft und Politik), Berlin, Germania
Gail Kligman
Professor, University of California, Berkeley, USA
Steven Sampson
Professor, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
Gisèle Sapiro
Directrice de recherche au CNRS, Directrice du Centre
européen de sociologie et de science politique (CESSP),
Université Paris-Panthéon-Sorbonne/CNRS/EHESS
Michael Shafir
Profesor, Facultatea de Studii Europene, Universitatea
Babeş-Bolyai, Cluj-Napoca, România
Lavinia Stan
Professor, Department of Political Science, St. Francis
Xavier University, Canada
G. M. Tamas
Budapest, Hungary
Katherine Verdery
Professor, City University of New York Graduate Center,
USA
REDACTOR ŞEF
Alexandru Radu
Profesor, Facultatea de Ştiinţe Politice, Universitatea
Creştină „Dimitrie Cantemir”, Bucureşti
SECRETAR GENERAL DE REDACŢIE
Florin Grecu
REDACŢIE
Alexandru Climescu
Nicolae Drăguşin
Aurora Martin
Ioana Paverman
Camelia Runceanu
Cecilia Tohăneanu
TEHNOREDACTOR
Liviu Stoica
Fundaţia
Societatea Civilă
Revista Sfera Politicii
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Sfera Politicii
VOLUMUL XXIII, NUMĂRUL 1 (183), ianuarie-martie 2015
Editorial
Alexandru Radu
Un model al mecanismului electoral prezidenţial românesc .................................... 3
Alegeri prezidențiale 2014
Sabin Drăgulin, Silvia Rotaru
Alegerile prezidențiale 2014 – Președintele României și eșecul previzionării.
O abordare analitică ................................................................................................. 10
Dan Mihalache, Iulia Huiu
Alegerile prezidențiale din 2014 – rezultat surpriză sau strategie ......................... 29
Daniel Buti
Limitele electorale ale PSD în alegerile prezidențiale. Cazul 2014 ......................... 40
Florin Grecu
Actorii politici şi nepolitici din campania electorală prezidenţială 2014 ............... 50
Adrian-Cosmin Basarabă
Modele de vot şi clivaje sociale la alegerile prezidenţiale din anul 2014
în Banat ..................................................................................................................... 68
Gherghina Boda
Alegerile prezidenţiale 2014 în judeţul Hunedoara ................................................ 78
Mihai Covaci
Factorul Facebook în alegerile prezidențiale din 2014 ........................................... 85
Tasențe Tănase
The electoral campaign through Social Media.
Case Study – 2014 Presidential elections in Romania .............................................. 92
Oana Băluţă
Gen, politică şi mass-media: reprezentări stereotipizate. Cum tragem linia ? ....... 105
Dumitru-Cătălin Rogojanu
Alegeri prezidenţiale 2014 - Klaus Iohannis şi condamnarea
trecutului comunist .................................................................................................... 120
Radu-Ioan Opriș
Opțiunile de politică externă și de securitate ale României în viziunea lui
Klaus Iohannis ......................................................................................................... 127
Andreea-Iustina Tuzu
Retrospectiva alegerilor prezidenţiale din România anului 2014 ........................ 134
Adrian-Cosmin Canae
Alegerile prezidenţiale din România, noiembrie 2014 – o luptă acerbă
între stânga și dreapta ............................................................................................ 142
Ionela Gavril
Alegerile prezidenţiale din 2014 şi impactul lor asupra regimului
premier-prezidenţial din România ......................................................................... 152
Viorel Mionel
Politica şi Biserica. Mariaj segregaţionist cu impact asupra
integrităţii naţionale .............................................................................................. 162
Index de autori ........................................................................................................ 169
Summary .................................................................................................................... 171
92 Sfera Politicii nr. 1 (183) / 2015
Introduction
The electoral communication
through social networking sites (SNSs)
has experienced an increasing profes-
sionalisation from the Romanian’s par-
liamentary elections in 2008– when it
was introduced for the first time the
electoral communication strategies, in
Romania– until the Presidential elec-
tions in 2014.
Developing a real network-socie-
ty, the political communication through
Social Media is no longer performing
unidirectional, the political actors and
the journalists do not have the same in-
fluence on the masses, as they had in
the classic systems of political commu-
nication and the online opinion lead-
ers have become key-factors in all this
equation. If at the parliamentary elec-
tions in 2008 and 2012, Social Media
were used only as unidirectional me-
dia1, the candidates were not fully em-
powered the new resources of web 2.0,
at the presidential election in 2014 most
candidates understood that not the par-
ties have the control in Social Media,
but the online political citizens (OPC2).
1 Tănase Tasențe, „Social Media and Politi-
cal Communication. Case study– The Parlia-
mentary Parties in Romania“, Sfera Politicii,
Vol XXI, 174 (2013)
2 Tănase Tasențe, Comunicarea politică prin
Social Media și reacțiile publicului online
(București : Universitara, 2014).
The electoral campaign through Social Media.
Case Study – 2014 Presidential elections in Romania
TASENȚE TĂNASE
[Independent Researcher]
Abstract
Developing a real network-society,
the political communication through
Social Media is no longer performing
unidirectional, the political actors
and the journalists do not have the
same influence on the masses, as
they had in the classic systems of
political communication and the
online opinion leaders have become
key-factors in all this equation. In
this sense, the main purpose of
online campaign staff is to empower
fans to interact with the posts of
the candidate. Thus, any kind of
feedback – like, comment or share –
decentralizes the political message
in social groups of fans, where he
has a greater influence than the
political actor. Once the message is
discussed in social groups, strong ties
(friends) of the fans are persuaded
to become, in their turn, fans of the
political actor and the conversion
rate increase and this process will
continue as long as interaction rate is
high. In this paper, we aim to analyse
the communication process through
Facebook in the electoral campaign
for the 2014 Romanian Presidential
Elections and to compare the level of
support for candidates on Facebook
and for the real vote.
Keywords
political communication; Social
Media; Presidential elections;
Facebook; interactions
Alegeri preziden†iale 2014
93
Sfera Politicii nr. 1 (183) / 2015
Furthermore, the communication staffs understood much better in 2014 that
the Facebook pages of the candidates (sources of the political message) is not nec-
essarily a space for debate, but rather a source of message dissemination in the so-
cial groups of their fans, where it is debated between friends (strong ties). In oth-
er words, in Social Media, the communication process is conducted by the online
political citizens (Facebook fans of the politician) that personalizes the political
message, share and debate it through interpersonal communication in their social
groups, and the percentage of generating standardized opinions streams is higher.
In this sense, the main purpose of the online campaign staff is to empower
fans to interact with the posts of the candidate. Thus, any kind of feedback– like,
comment or share– decentralizes the political message in the fans’ social groups,
where they have a greater influence than the political actor. Once the message is
discussed in social groups, the strong ties (friends) of the fans are persuaded to be-
come, in their turn, fans of the political actor and the conversion rate will increase.
The new fans will bring, in their turn, other fans and this process will continue as
long as interaction rate is high.
If we analyze from the perspective of the substance of the communication
process, the political communication through Social Media follows the „americani-
zation“ trend– in fact, the „americanization“ phenomenon is much higher in this
informational age– the speech quality has considerably decreased, the syle used
by politicians on Facebook is mostly colloquial, the topics used by political actors
in social networks are mostly non-political and the political issues, mostly, are pre-
sented by them as entertainment news (infotainment).
The „Obama 2008“ pattern, implement in 2014 Romanian
Presidential election
The most visible involvement of social media in political and electoral commu-
nication strategies was observed in the presidential campaign in the United States
in 2008. As Maria Magdalena Jianu stated, „not TV channels like CNN or ABC have
brought Obama decisive advantage, but the SNSs, like Facebook, Myspace, forums,
blogs, generally frequented by students (Obama had 320, 000 online supporters,
compared to Hillary Clinton– 5,300)“3.
Thus, we find that the supremacy of the television in political communication,
as we know it from the early stages of professionalization of the political commu-
nication systems, is over, and it was replaced by the SNSs, that offer unprecedented
opportunity to exploit a public, overlooked so far by other means of mass commu-
nication : youths. Moreover, Obama has recorded an unique performance amoung
young people– 18-29 years old.
The communicators from his staff have succeded, thanks to the implemen-
tation of effective strategies of communication through Social Media, without re-
placing the traditional media, to stimulate and mobilize social groups of youths,
otherwise considered, from the point of view of elections, a critical category, luke-
warm and skeptical about the effectiveness of any proposed political program. The
method whereby Obama’s strategy managed to „raise“ the youths was to satisfy
their needs of interaction, to update constantly the information and to diversifi-
cate the online channels of mass communication.
We have to specify that Obama’s communicators have used all Social
Media’s components : from Facebook, Youtube, Flickr, Twitter, to social network
3 Maria Magdalena Jianu, Elena Jianu, „Aspecte ale comunicării politice actuale“, Analele
Universității „Constantin Brâncuși“ din Târgu Jiu, Seria Litere și Științe Sociale 3(2009) : 27.
94 Sfera Politicii nr. 1 (183) / 2015
for professionals, LinkedIn, to stimulate including occupational groups. The huge
succes of Obama from 2008 has mobilized many political actors to use online social
networking platforms for presentation and promotion of the electoral message
and they have heavily relied on meeting the needs of debating, that customizes
the online audience.
Even in Germany, a country where, according to studies conducted in 2008,
„most German politicians can not stand political communication through social
media“4, Obama’s success due to social networks recorded between 2010 and
2012, according to a study conducted by three researchers, Stefan Stieglitz, Tobias
Brockmann, Linh Dang Xuan5, a significant increase (5-8 times higher in 2012 com-
pared to 2010) of the interest of German citizens, specially of the political parties
on this new way to convey the political messages and to interact with voters.
Also in Romania the interest of politicians to use Social Media in electoral
campaigns and in usual political communication with voters is recent. The first elec-
tion campaign analyzed by researchers in Romania are those of the parliamentary
and presidential elections in 2008 and 2009. Among them, we recall a study entitled
„Social Media and political communication. Case study– Romania’s parliamentary
parties“6, which shows that Romania’s parliamentary parties in moderate propor-
tion use Social Media to spread political messages and interaction with voters. The
same study shows that political parties which had a great support in Social Media
(both in terms of number of fans, and especially the interaction) were successful
in the 2009 parliamentary elections, mananing an electoral score them allowed ac-
cession to government.
Also, the political parties which have exploited the benefits of promoting
the image and political messages through social networks, have received an active
participation from the supporters on their Facebook sites, generating a very high
rate of interaction and engagement to their posts.
In fact, the interaction has become the main aim of all campaign strategists.
The success of political communication through Social Media was translated, first
of all, by the degree of adherence to the political messages of the political actors
and by the degree of interaction that these messages can provide.
If the interaction was ensured, the secondary aim is inviting the social media
users to participate in promoting the campaign message in their social groups– if
we talk about electoral campaign, but also for collective decision making, if we talk
about the government processes.
However, the usage level of social media in political communication in
Romania is still very small compared to the US electoral processes online. Diana
Cismaru notes that, comparing with American examples, in Romania the politicians
and the communicators still do not understand „the specific of the network, which
consists in focusing on the public interest, accessibility and interaction“7. Also, it is
found that politicians from Romania do not have constant activity in Social Media
(ex. Iohannis has built his Facebook page on May 29, 2014, just four months before
the start of the campaign), and if they have a Facebook page for more than 2 years,
they use it more for unilateral communication (ex. Victor Ponta, 2012).
4 Stefan Stieglitz, Tobias Brockmann, Linh Dang Xuan, „Usage of Social Media for Political
Communication“, PACIS 12 Proceedings, http ://aisel.aisnet.org/pacis2012/22
5 Stefan Stieglitz, Tobias Brockmann, Linh Dang Xuan, „Usage of Social Media for Political
Communication“, PACIS 12 Proceedings, http ://aisel.aisnet.org/pacis2012/22
6 Tănase Tasențe, Ciacu Nicoleta, „Social Media and Political Communication. Case Study– The
Parliamentary Parties in Romania“, Sfera Politicii, 174 (2013) : 147-160
7 Diana Cismaru, Social Media și Managementul reputației (București : Tritonic, 2012), 48.
95
Sfera Politicii nr. 1 (183) / 2015
Case study : The electoral campaign through Social Media for the
2014 Presidential Elections
Aims
1. Analysing the communication process through Facebook in the electoral
campaign for the 2014 Romanian Presidential Elections
2. Comparative analysing the level of support for candidates on Facebook
and for the real vote.
Hypothesis
It is assumed that the political actor who manages to involve their fans more
in commenting and sharing the political message, he will generate a higher conver-
sion rate, which will lead to increased confidence vote.
Methodology
For achieving the objectives, we have used the quantitative analysis. We have
centralized and comparative analyzed data from two dimensions : the real vote di-
mension and the support and interaction of Social Media dimension
In order to monitor the activity in Social Media, we have analyzed the evolu-
tion of the number of fans between 7th of November to 16, 2014, we have quan-
tified the number of likes, comments and shares on each post and the total of the
daily interactions, we have analyzed the types of posts and topics used by the can-
didates in the social network to compare them according to the engagement rate
they are generating. We also calculated the conversion rate of the common users
in fans, based the interactions of the main fans. We have used multiple sources of
data centralization, among which the candidates’ Facebook pages and the social
media analysis website, www.socialbakers.com.
For data centralization from voting, we have used to the www.bec2014.ro
website and we have analyzed the following indicators : the number of votes in
Romania and the number of votes the Diaspora countries with the most votes.
Data centralization
a. Data centralization from the vote
According to the Minutes regarding counting votes in the elections for
President of Romania – 16th of November, 20148, the situation looks as follows :
1. In Romania, the total number of valid votes was 11,176,501, of which Klaus
Iohannis has received 5,949,896 votes, representing 53.24% and Victor Ponta has
received 5,225,605 votes, representing 46.76%.
2. In the Diaspora, the total number of valid votes was 377,651, but we will present
only those countries with the highest voter turnout :
a. Italy (96,600 votes)– Klaus Iohannis received 85,579 votes, representing
88.59% and Victor Ponta has received 11,021 votes, representing 11.40%
b. Spain (82,744 votes)– Klaus Iohannis has received 74,995 votes, representing
90.63% and Victor Ponta has received 7,749 votes, representing 9.36%
c. Germany (17,506 votes)– Klaus Iohannis has received 16,816 votes, represent-
ing 96.05% and Victor Ponta has received 690 votes, representing 3.94%.
d. United Kingdom (25,850 votes)– Klaus Iohannis has received 24,533 votes,
representing 94.90% and Victor Ponta has received 1,317 votes, representing
5.09%
8 http ://www.bec2014.ro/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Anexa-3-tur-2.tif
96 Sfera Politicii nr. 1 (183) / 2015
e. Moldova (35,543 votes)– Klaus Iohannis has received 27,933 votes, represent-
ing 78.58% and Victor Ponta has received 7,610 votes, representing 21.41%.
f. United States (17,683 votes)– Klaus Iohannis has received 16,388 votes, repre-
senting 92.67% and Victor Ponta has received 1,295 votes, representing 7.32%
g. France (16,053 votes)– Klaus Iohannis has received 15,004 votes, representing
93.46% and Victor Ponta received 1,049 votes, representing 6.53%.
b. The data centralization in Social Media
On 28th of April 2014, when the last report9 of the number of users of
Facebook users has been made, in Romania were about 7.2 million people access-
ing this social network, the Facebook penetration rate among the general popula-
tion was 35.78%, and the Facebook penetration among Internet users in Romania
was 74.67%.
Relating to the age groups, the most users (30.1%) were aged between 25
and 34 years old, followed by 18-24 years old (27.2%), 35-44 years old (17.4%),
45-54 years old (7.3%), 55-64 years old (3.4%) and those over 65 years old (1.3%).
The audience aged between 13 to 17 years, meaning the people who do not vote,
are representing 13.4% of total users. Relating to gender, 63.93% are male and
36.07% female.
The distribution of the Facebook fans of the two candidates, by geographi-
cal area, is as follows :
Victor Ponta
(total no. of fans,
16th of November 2014 – 715, 226)
Klaus Iohannis
(total no. of fans, 16th
of November 2014 – 848, 419)
Country No. of fans % from total
no. of fans Country No. of fans % from total
no. of fans
Romania 644,418 90.1% Romania 681,280 80.3%
Italy 15,734 2.2% Italy 44,117 5.2%
Spain 6,437 0.9% Spain 22,907 2.7%
Germany 4,291 0.6% Germany 21,210 2.5%
U.K. 5,006 0.7% U.K. 16,119 1.9%
Moldova 2,145 0.3% Moldova 7,635 0.9%
U.S.A. 2,145 0.3% U.S.A. 6,787 0.8%
France 2,145 0.3% France 6,787 0.8%
As a consequence of monitoring the Social Media activity of the two candi-
dates, we have centralized the following indicators that will help us to achieve cor-
relations and comparisons of the performance of Victor Ponta and Klaus Iohannis
in this channel of communication.
Thus, we have centralized the following indicators : the number of fans by
days, the number of posts by days, the number of likes, comments and shares, the
total number of interactions and the engagement rate by days.
9 http ://www.facebrands.ro/demografice.html#evolutie
97
Sfera Politicii nr. 1 (183) / 2015
Victor Ponta’s Facebook activities in electoral campaign –
summarizing table
Date No. of
fans No. of
posts No. of
like No. of
comments No. of
shares Total
interactions Users
Engagement
rate / days
7.10.2014 659,303 1 9,673 752 659 11,084 1.68%
8.10.2014 660,407 0 0 0 0 0 0%
9.10.2014 662,397 5 37,070 3,789 92 45,245 1.36%
10.10.2014 664,978 7 68,553 6,595 7,091 82,239 1.77%
11.10.2014 668,020 11 108,449 16,267 11,273 135,989 1.85%
12.10.2014 672,310 9 120,508 15,937 10,539 146,984 2.43%
13.10.2014 676,378 8 116,071 18,377 10,620 145,068 2.68%
14.10.2014 681,063 14 140,370 16,266 13,612 170,248 1.79%
15.10.2014 686,734 14 190,780 18,847 16,063 225,690 2.35%
16.10.2014 715,226 5 103,332 25,871 4,123 133,326 3.73%
TOTAL 74 894,806 122,701 78,366 1,095,873 2.18%
Klaus Iohannis’ Facebook activities in electoral campaign – summarizing table
Date No. of
fans No. of
posts No. of
like No. of
comments No. of
shares Total
interactions Users
Engagement
rate / days
7.10.2014 484,289 5 102,989 3,128 22,037 128,154 5.29%
8.10.2014 491,660 6 104,898 4,085 27,039 136,022 4.61%
9.10.2014 506,223 5 108,578 6,078 39,838 154,494 6.10%
10.10.2014 520,927 4 92,308 4,992 33,264 130,564 6.27%
11.10.2014 543,910 11 246,080 17,178 37,280 300,538 5.02%
12.10.2014 565,718 18 397,804 24,211 40,464 462,479 4.54%
13.10.2014 586,602 16 169,913 9,726 31,963 211,602 2.25%
14.10.2014 606,179 10 274,853 12,383 64,810 352,046 5.81%
15.10.2014 662,968 6 233,075 11,199 22,701 266,975 6.71%
16.10.2014 848,419 21 1,773,722 78,287 179,931 2,031,940 11.40%
TOTAL 102 3,504,220 171,267 499,327 4,174,814 5.80%
Data analysis
The Evolution of the number of fans
During the monitoring period, November 7 to 16, the candidate Victor Ponta
has generated a growth rate of fans of 7.82%. On the other hand, Klaus Iohannis
has generated a growth rate of 42.92%. The last one, as we can see in the chart
below, has managed to overcome the first, on the voting day, 16th of Octomber,
2014, succeeding an increase of 242,240 fans in just two days. We must specify that
the Facebook page of Klaus Iohannis was built on 29 May 2014, about 4 months
before the start of the election campaign and the Facebook page of Victor Ponta
was built on 22 December 2010.
98 Sfera Politicii nr. 1 (183) / 2015
Figure 1 – The evolution of the number of fans
of the two candidates, from 7 to 16 November 2014
Types of posts
The campaign team of Iohannis used a wider range of posts than Victor
Ponta’s team. If Victor Ponta has used photos as their principal means of commu-
nication through Facebook (81.10% of total posts), Klaus Iohannis has used videos
in a proportion of 30.70%, photos– 29.70%, links– 19.80% and statuses– 18.80%.
Videos and links have been used in a proportion of 10.80% and 8.10% in the case
of Victor Ponta and events, in 1%, in the case of Iohannis.
Regarding the engagement of the fans at different types of post, the situa-
tion is shown in the following way :
Iohannis has generated the highest rates of engagement to videos, 8.23%, to
photos– 7.44% and statuses– 5.31%. Links and events have generated a low rate
of engagement, 2.02% and 0.90%
Ponta has generated the highest engagement rate to photos, 2.38%. The posts
in which he has used videos, the rate was 1.30%, and links– 1.29%.
Figure 2 – Types of posts used by the two candidates
99
Sfera Politicii nr. 1 (183) / 2015
The subjects used in posts
The electoral communication of Victor Ponta in Social Media was focused on
messages of support came from several personalities (40.54%), among which we
mention : Dorel Vișan, George Ivașcu, Gabriela Szabo, Helmuth Duckadam, Titi Aur,
Ilie Năstase, Leonard Doroftei, Anghel Iordănescu, Tudor Gheorghe, Radu Beligan,
Matteo Renzi (the Prime Minister of Italy), Ioan Holender, Martin Schulz (The
President of European Parliament), Sigmar Gabriel (Vice Chancellor of Germany),
Sorin Oprescu, Gianni Pittella (leader of the Social Democratic Party in the European
Parliament), Raed Arafat, Sorin Ilfoveanu, Marius Bodochi și Pavel Năstase (Rector
of the Academy of Economic Studies from Bucharest). On this segment, the engage-
ment rate was on average 2%, below his overall average engagement of 2.18%.
News and announcements of the Premier activities represented 21.57% of all posts,
political statements represented 16.22%, references to competing candidate
14.87, birthdays– 4.06%, religious holidays and campaign activities– 2.70% each.
On the other hand, the Social Media campaign team of Klaus Iohannis fo-
cused on commercial postings (political advertising)– 25.74%, resulting a high en-
gagement rate (7.55%)– well above his overall average of 5.80%. The references to
the competing candidate represented a percentage of 24.75% of the total number
of posts, notifications about radio and TV appearances– 24.75%, political state-
ments– 22.77% and campaign activities– 1.98%. The references to the competing
candidate amounted to an engagement rate of 5.15%, below the general average
of 5.80%. Political statements and notifications generated a very low rate of en-
gagement, compared with the overall average.
Categories topics Candidate
Victor Ponta Klaus Iohannis
Messages of support
from personalities 40.54% 0%
Advertising election 0% 25.74%
Political statement 16.22% 22.77%
References to the
competing candidate 14.87% 24.75%
Government Activity 21.57% 0%
Campaign activities 2.70% 1.98%
Birthdays 4.06% 0%
Religious celebrations 2.70% 0%
Notifications 0% 24.75%
The evolution of interactions and engagement rates of the fans
Klaus Iohannis has managed to engage better its online audience for in-
teractions than Victor Ponta. Iohannis achieved an overall performance of 3.81
times more interactions than Ponta, with the remark that on day of vote, 16th of
November, Klaus Iohannis managed to persuade his fans to interact 15.24 times
more than his opponent.
100 Sfera Politicii nr. 1 (183) / 2015
Figure 3 – The evolution of the interactions
During the monitoring period, we have observed between the numbers of
comments submitted by fans of the two candidates, there is a relative equality. The
difference is made on the voting day (16th of November), when the number of
comments on Klaus Iohannis’ Facebook page increased from an average of about
10.000 comments to 80.000 (8 times more).
On Victor Ponta’s Facebook page there was some constancy on the number
of comments, ranging from 16.000 to almost 26.000 between 11th to 16th of
November 2014.
Figure 4 – The evolution of the number of comments
101
Sfera Politicii nr. 1 (183) / 2015
The difference between the two candidates is made by the number of shares,
the indicator that sends the information the fastest in social groups of fans and
generates the fastest conversion of regular Facebook users in fans or online politi-
cal citizens. In the chart below we can see that the political information on Klaus
Iohannis page is shared by fans 62 times more than the information displayed on
Victor Ponta’s Facebook page.
Figure 5 – The evolution of the shares
Regarding the engagement rate, Klaus Iohannis managed to engage better
his Facebook supporters on commenting and sharing the posted information, com-
pared to Victor Ponta. Iohannis achieved an average engagement rate of 5.80%
versus 2.18% as recorded on Ponta’s page. Even if he generated a downward trend
during the period 7 to 13 November 2014, Klaus Iohannis managed to mobilize his
supporters on Facebook on 14-16 of November, generating an increase of 9.15 per-
cent of the engagement rate. On the last day, 16th of November, Klaus Iohannis
registered an engagement rate of 11.40%. almost 2 times higher than the overall
average. On the other hand. Victor Ponta has generated a relatively constant en-
gagement rate throughout the lap 2, which fluctuated between 1.3% and 2.68%.
On the last day, November 16, his engagement rate increased to 3.73%.
Figure 6 – The evolution of the engagement rate
102 Sfera Politicii nr. 1 (183) / 2015
The evolution of the conversion rate
Calculating the conversion rate based on fans interactions, as vectors of in-
formation communication in social groups, we note that, due to the large number
of interactions, Klaus Iohannis managed to transform many common users from the
social groups of his fans or online political citizens (OPC). The new fans will bring
also other fans and this process will continue as long as the interactions rate is high.
We can observe that the average rate of conversion of Iohannis is 9.37%. about 2
times higher than Victor Ponta’s rate (4.68%).
Figure 7 – The evolution of the conversion rate
Comparative analysis of the key-indicators of Social Media
VICTOR PONTA KLAUS IOHANNIS
Increase fans no. 7.82% 42.92%
Total posts 74 101
Political/nonpolitical
topics 89.19%– political topics ;
10.81%– nonpolitical topics 92.08– political topics ;
7.92%– nonpolitical topics
Topics posts by
categories 40.54%– messages of support
from personalities
16.22%– political statement
14.87%– references to
competing candidate
8.11%– Government economic
news
6.76%– Premier message
4.06%– birthdays
2.70%– campaign activities.
2.70%– external meetings
2.70%– religious holiday
25.74%– political advertising.
24.75%– references to
competing candidate
24.75%– notifications
22.77%– political statement
1.98%– campaign activities
Total no. of likes 894,806 likes 3,504,220 likes
Total no. of comments 122,701 comments 171,267 comments
Total no. of shares 78,366 shares 499,327 shares
Total no. of interactions 1,095,873 interactions 4,174,814 interactions
The average
engagement rate 2.18% 6.14%
The average
conversion rate 4.68% 9.37%
103
Sfera Politicii nr. 1 (183) / 2015
Comparative analysis of the percentages of the vote and the support on
Facebook – Romania and Diaspora
Summarizing and analyzing the data obtained from the Central Electoral Bureau
and those obtained from the social media analysis website, www.socialbakers.com,
we have realized correlations that can help us to understand some similarities be-
tween the virtual environment and the support of the real environment. Thus, we
can observe in the table below that are relatively small percentage differences
between Facebook support and vote support. Klaus Iohannis won 53.24% of the
vote on Romanian territory, compared to Victor Ponta, who received 46.76%, from
96.83% which represent the valid votes only in Romania, without Diaspora. Relating
to online support, Klaus Iohannis has 681,280 Facebook fans from Romania, accord-
ing to data from socialbakers.com, compared to Victor Ponta, who has 644, 418
Romanian fans. On Facebook, the ratio of the two candidates is 48.61%, support
for Victor Ponta and 51.39%– support for Iohannis.
The same correlations we have made also for some Diaspora countries. Thus,
in Italy, the real situation of vote was 11.40% (Ponta) and 88.95% (Iohannis), and
the ratio on Facebook was 26.29% (Ponta) and 73.71% (Klaus Iohannis). Votes from
Italy represented 0.81% of the total valid votes.
COUNTRY No. of
votes
%
voting
REAL VOTES SOCIAL MEDIA
Victor Ponta Klaus Iohannis Victor Ponta Klaus Iohannis
Votes % Votes % Fans % Fans %
Romania 11553152 96.83% 5225605 46.76% 5949896 53.24% 644418 48.61% 681280 51.39%
Italy 96600 0.81% 11021 11.40% 85579 88.95% 15734 26.29% 44117 73.71%
Spain 82744 0.69% 7749 9.36% 74995 90.63% 6437 21.94% 22907 78.06%
Germany 17506 0.15% 690 3.94% 16816 96.05% 4291 16.83% 21210 83.17%
UK 25850 0.22% 1317 5.09% 24533 94.90% 5006 23.70% 16119 76.30%
Moldova 35543 0.30% 7610 21.41% 27933 78.58% 2145 21.93% 7635 78.07%
USA 17683 0.15% 1295 7.32% 16388 92.67% 2145 24.01% 6787 75.99%
France 16053 0.13% 1049 6.53% 15004 93.46% 2145 24.01% 6787 75.99%
Figure 8 – Comparison between the real vote situation and the Facebook support
(voters from Romania– 96.83% of the valid votes)
104 Sfera Politicii nr. 1 (183) / 2015
Conclusions
According to this study, comparing it with the 2012 parliamentary elections,
we can observe a high increase of the professionalism of the electoral communica-
tion through Social Media in 2014.
While in the previous elections, the political actors have focused on their
message rather than on the feedback it generates, in the 2014 elections, the can-
didates have focused on interaction and the fact that their online supporters can
become a very important communication vectors, as they have a greater influence
than politicians in the social groups to which they belong.
Moreover, it was found that the politician who connects to multimedia re-
sources and transmits the most comprehensive range of categories of posts, gener-
ates a greater engagement rate, that means a higher conversion rate. For example.
Klaus Iohannis used mostly videos for transmitting his electoral message– means that
invites Facebook users to interaction. Also, he used photos, links and statuses. Victor
Ponta focused his online communication strategy only on text and photo posts.
Also, Victor Ponta lost his influence in the online environment because he
didn’t focused his communication strategy on the online public typology, mostly
young users. From the analysis, it was found that his strategy of winning image
capital due to the support from cultural and political personalities, failed to gen-
erate a high engagement rate. This strategy may influence an older audience, but
not on a younger audience.
On the other hand, Klaus Iohannis adapted his communication strategy to the
typology of the Facebook public and he has focused his communication on adver-
tising messages– in which only the qualities were highlighted–, on messages that
attack the opponent, on message announcing the presence to radio or television
program or on political statements. Moreover, Klaus Iohannis managed to gener-
ate almost 4 times more interaction than Victor Ponta and this aspect increased the
conversion rate from day to day.
All this Social Media indicators were compared with the voting confidence
and our assumption is confirmed– according to which the political actor who man-
age to generate debate around his political message, will generate a higher conver-
sion rate (from common users to fans) and also a higher confidence vote.
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Aspecte ale comunicării politice actuale
  • Magdalena Jianu Elena Maria
  • Jianu
Maria Magdalena Jianu. Elena Jianu. "Aspecte ale comunicării politice actuale". Analele Universității "Constantin Brâncuși" din Târgu Jiu. Seria Litere și Științe Sociale 3(2009)
Social Media și Managementul reputației. București, Tritonic
  • Diana Cismaru
CISMARU, Diana. Social Media și Managementul reputației. București, Tritonic. 2012.