PurposeThe paper intends to explore the role and function of citizen-led social media forums in the marketing of political discourse. Using the entrepreneurial marketing (EM) perspective of “co-creation of value”, this paper aims to explore the manner in which consumers of political communications in a specific region have created user generated value via setting up Facebook forums to manage the risk created by fake news and the trust deficit between citizens and mainstream media (MSM).Design/methodology/approachThe paper adopts a “netnographic” approach to investigation and the data is analysed manual coding (Kozinets, 2015). Facebook groups form the virtual research field in in the context of this study. This approach is adopted because in a social media environment, netnography capitalises over a growing virtual and online communities and allows researchers to study the richness of these online communities (Mkono and Markwell, 2014).FindingsThe study provides insights on how administrators and moderators of Facebook groups create value for other users by identifying and communicating the risks emerging from social media-based political communication. The study finds that such citizen-led initiatives act as online social aggregators. The value that such groups offer its users/members resides within a well-bound, controlled and moderated online medium that encourages users to counter fake news and misinformation – thereby solving a key problem within the user market i.e. citizen-media trust deficit.Research limitations/implicationsThe study uses a qualitative, netnographic approach and the emerging insights cannot be generalised. The emergent findings are specific to the context of this study and researchers are encouraged to further test the propositions emerging from this research in varied contexts.Practical implicationsThe study extends the application of EM in political contexts using the seven dimensions of EM, which will provide impetus for future political campaigns in terms of unique value creation for publics. The paper also emerges with the role citizen-initiated forums can play in the effective dissemination of digital political communication as user generated content is aiding political debate.Social implicationsThe study helps highlight the role Facebook forums can play in informing the political discourse within a region. The general distrust amongst the citizens over information produced by MSM has meant vocal critics have taken to Facebook to provide their subjective opinions. Although the findings of this study show that such forums can help identify “fake news” and help citizens discuss and debate the truth, it can also become an avenue to manage propaganda amongst the “unaware” citizens. This paper flags up the issues and benefits of using Facebook forums and in conclusion relates them to similar occurrences of the past to make society aware of the pitfalls of managed propaganda.Originality/valueThe paper takes initiative in investigating the use of social media in politics from the citizens’ perspective, which is comparatively marginalised against the number of studies taking place, which investigate the political party end use of social media for political marketing.
Journal of Research in Marketing and Entrepreneurship – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jan 1, 1
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