Social media networks and voting behaviour: a Study of public servants in Abuja in the 2015 Nigerian presidential election
Ibietan, Omoniyi Paul
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Whereas it seems settled that social media networks stimulate social and political participation, the question lingers whether the social media actually influence voting behaviour and the extent to which they do. A questionnaire and semi-structured interviews were used by the researcher to explore this question specifically in the 2015 Nigerian presidential election by obtaining quantitative and qualitative data respectively. The SPSS and ATLAS.ti software were used to analyse the data. By means of the convergent parallel mixed methods design which prioritises the quantitative approach, this study proves that Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp influence voting behaviour. It demonstrates that Facebook and WhatsApp communication positively and significantly correlate with voting behaviour; WhatsApp was found to be the most influential of the three social media networks. The study also shows that social and demographic factors, specifically, age, level of education, ethnicity, religion, income and grade levels acted as mediating factors in this context. The study validates three theoretical models: Castells’ theory of the network society, Fuchs’s social theory, and Katz and Lazarsfeld’s two-step flow theory. However, only 6.2% of the measured predictors were found to account for voting behaviour. The social media, personal, interpersonal and traditional media communication, social and demographic variables, as well as issues in the larger social environment – including candidates’ traits and personalities, appeared to be responsible for voting behaviour. The channel-factor model of political communication was created by the researcher to illustrate how numerous channels and factors interact to influence voting behaviour in an election.
- Humanities