Research Trends in Social Media’s Role in Political Campaigns: A Bibliometric Analysis

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Alfonso Pellegrino


Despite their increasing ubiquity in people’s lives and incredible advantages in instantly interacting with others, social media’s impact the political debate and its perception among citizens which is a source of concern worldwide. Watchdog organizations call for up-to-date investigations on the role social media plays in political campaigns. Much research in this domain has discovered how social media spread misinformation which often leads to debate polarization and social unrest consequently negatively affecting citizens’ lives, social behavior, and interpersonal relationships. The present study was conducted to review the extant literature in the domain of social media and political campaigns scholar productivity. Bibliometric analysis was conducted on 265 articles that were extracted from the Scopus database. The data were then uploaded to VOSviewer software to analyze citations, co-citations, and keyword co-occurrences. Volume, growth trajectory, geographic distribution of the literature, influential authors, intellectual structure of the literature, and the most prolific publishing sources were analyzed. Our bibliometric analysis shows that the US, the UK, and India accounted for 59% of the publications in this field and we identified four clusters of studies the first: Media and Political Advertising have authors who have extensively published on the consequences of political advertising in legislative and presidential elections, political campaigns communication scholars who instead highlight political campaigns communication, online misinformation and privacy issues scholars who writes about techniques regarding online deception and politics and social movements specialists focusing on the expanding significance of minorities’ rights in social media. Most of the studies used mixed methods in analyzing data. Limitations as well as research directions for future studies are discussed as well.

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