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Facebooking the Tanzanian Elections: Citizen and Party Campaigners in the Social Media Ecosystem

Deodatus P Shayo*

Abstract

The 2015 presidential election cycle in Tanzania featured social media networks in electoral campaigning.

Citizen and party campaigners emerged and used Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and WhatsApp mobile instant-messaging application to recruit and mobilise voters.

This article attempts to examine the most recent explosion of citizen and party election campaigners on Facebook.

The analysis focuses
on their engagement with Facebook campaigns, and whether the use of this social media platform amplified the promotion of presidential candidates.

The findings indicate that some presidential candidates were hardly visible on Facebook and could not get citizen and party campaign-initiated support.

Some were actively social networkers and had support via a networked model of Facebook campaign.


Nevertheless, a simple empirical test indicates a lack of a strong association between Facebook election campaigns activities and shares of votes garnered by candidates.


This discards the notion that citizens and party group supporters are the agents of electoral votes on the Facebook platform in Tanzania.

Despite the fact that there is a lack of strong association, it is reasonable to conclude that the use of social networks in electoral campaigns is becoming a more of desired strategies and tactics among aspirants and supporters in modern electioneering. Thus, this offers ample evidence and opportunities for aspirants, citizen and party campaigners engagement on social media strategically to be used to recruit and mobilise potential voters.

Keywords

election campaigns, citizen campaigners, party campaigners, Facebooking, social media ecosystem, Tanzania

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