What matters most in the responses to political campaign posts on social media: The candidate, message frame, or message format?

Shu Yan Benson Lam, Mei Fung Meily Cheung, Wai Han Lo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The responses of social media users to politicians' different content strategies have tremendous implications for election campaigns. However, the identification of the factors that influence social media users' responses remains a challenge. In this paper, we combine partial least squares (PLS) with a cross-validation technique to automatically identify the type of social media posts that are associated with strong responses from social media users. This approach is different from other methods that require manual identification of these associations. This study examines 534 posts and 379,880 comments on three candidates’ Facebook pages during the 2017 Hong Kong Chief Executive election. In the literature on message strategies and social media, this is one of the first studies to examine both the affective responses and cognitive expressions of social media users associated with different content strategies by politicians. The results show that the dominant candidate used his strong position to construct a strong online image, with posts generating more and longer comments and thus yielding more positive feedback. While media frames do not have any impact on either affective responses or the quality of comments, the use of videos and photographs elicits more responses. The findings contribute to the literature on online engagement and campaign strategy and support the argument that social media replicate offline power relations and offline responses to political messages.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106800
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Early online date21 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Psychology(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Elections
  • Political campaigns
  • Power structures
  • Social media
  • Social media data


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