Partiledere på Facebook: Danske partilederes branding og ethos-dannelse på Facebook

Mette Roed-Kristiansen

Student thesis: Master thesis


The aim of this thesis is to examine what options Facebook offers for the establishment of a credible personal brand of Danish politicians and how the Danish party leaders utilize these options in their personal branding on their official Facebook pages. A content analysis of 753 posts published by the nine Danish party leaders on their official Facebook pages over the three-week election campaign leading up to the Danish general election in 2015. The analysis was conducted, on the basis of Speed, Butler & Collins’ (2015) theory on the Political Offer and Aristotle’s theory on building trustworthiness through the establishment of Ethos. The analysis indicate that Facebook contains a number of possibilities for Ethos establishment. Facebooks’ build-in possibilities for interaction – like, sharing, and commenting – plays a major role, since they allow the politicians to portray themselves as responsive toward the receivers of the communication, which is a condition for Ethos establishment through Eunoia. The ability to communicate directly to a broad audience without gatekeepers, creates the possibility that politicians can communicate to a broad audience in real time with no restrictions other than what they think the receivers would find interesting. This way the politicians can portray themselves as knowledgeable by going as much in depth with their political position on a given topic as they find relevant, which is a condition for Ethos establishment through Phronesis. They can also choose to communicate about their daily activities and thoughts, which is a condition for Ethos through Arete. The examined party leaders manage in general to portray themselves as credible in the light of Aristotle’s Ethos theory, by utilizing Facebook’s possibilities. Similarly, the analysis shows that the nine party leaders generally, each in their own way, seek to brand themselves in a way that is consistent with their parties' descriptions of themselves and their ideology. This consistency between the politicians’ personal branding, and the party’s description of themselves and their ideology is a condition for them to be regarded as representing an authentic Political Offer in the eyes of the receivers. The analysis further indicates that a majority of the party leaders has a higher usage of non-political posts than political, thus describing their daily activities and thoughts. The user comments to the selected Facebook-posts indicates that political posts are met with more critical and negative comments than the non-political. The high number of non-political posts among the party leaders is consistent with previous American studies that indicate, that previous American presidential candidates prompted a fan-culture on their social media platforms based on personal relations rather than reason. The discussion elaborates on the possible connection between Fandom Politics and the Danish party leaders communication on Facebook. To my knowledge, this is the first thesis to examine establishment of Ethos and personal branding on Facebook among party leaders in a Danish context.

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and Organizational Communication, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages83