Hybrid 2018 campaigning: the social media habits of Italian political leaders and parties
The electoral communication flows produced by leaders, parties, and the main candidates are the result of hybrid media logics and this is due to the environment in which they develop, and to the communicative strategies used. These strategies are generated by the intersection of traditional media logics (TV, radio, press) with digital media logics (Internet).
This article investigates the social media communication habits of the main Italian leaders and political parties on Twitter and Facebook. To understand how the hybrid campaign developed in the Italian context, specific indicators were identified to operationalize social media habits related to: (a) communicative strategy, based on the productivity of the account (broadcast) and on its degree of interactivity (conversational), (b) skillfulness, regarding the capability to use different features of the social media platform; and (c) engagement, related to the capacity of the account to involve the audience. Results show that a more skillful use of the platforms, combined with a conversational communication strategy, produce more engaging messages regardless the specific political actor (leader or party). Finally, the outcomes show a significant strengthening of hybrid media campaigning during the last Italian general elections on 4 March 2018.