The role of authenticity in electoral social media campaigns


  • Gabrielle Grow
  • Janelle Ward



authenticity, elections, politics, US, Facebook, social media


Authenticity is a popular buzzword in electoral politics: Electoral candidates and politicians are expected to be authentic in their public interactions. Since 2008, campaigning via social media has become an integral part of elections in the United States, and continues to gain importance. In such an environment, this paper presents research into the role of authenticity in social media electoral campaigns. Using Gilpin, et al.’s (2010) definition of authenticity as the theoretical basis, interviews were conducted with U.S. Democrats to query their perceptions of candidates’ Facebook pages, and particularly in relation to authenticity. This study refines existing definitions of authenticity and offers insights into how electoral candidates can demonstrate authenticity in electoral social media campaigns.

Author Biographies

Gabrielle Grow

Gabrielle Grow has recently received a Master of Arts in media studies from Erasmus University Rotterdam for this research. For more information visit or contact Gabrielle at

Janelle Ward

Janelle Ward is Assistant Professor in the Department of Media and Communication at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Her research focuses on the uses of new media for political purposes ranging from citizen building to political consumerism. Janelle has recently published on these topics in Information, Communication and Society and Media, Culture & Society, and in 2012 she published a book called ?Communicating Citizenship Online? with Hampton Press. For more information see or contact Janelle at




How to Cite

Grow, G., & Ward, J. (2013). The role of authenticity in electoral social media campaigns. First Monday, 18(4).