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The
current paper is based on a positivistic philosophy on deductive approach:
hypothesis provided above were deducted from the literature review and have
been tested. Collecting quantitative data, mono-method has been applied
(Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2007). Due to time limitations, a
cross-sectional time horizon was used in the current paper (Bryman A. ,
2012).  The required primary data was
collected through the survey with a diverse sample of participants (n=120). A literature
review allowed to improve the questionnaire’s structure and its content. In
order to apply a statistical approach to data analysis, the research design was
based on quantitative questions. The questionnaire includes 9 questions that
are strictly directed to find out whether Facebook influences positively
electoral choice. Questions were separated into 3 dimensions as follows:

Dimension (1): politician
participation in social networks (Q3)

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Dimension (2): electorates’
trust  (Q2)

Dimension (3): chances to
win  (Q6, Q7)

In order
to answer the main research question amount of questions is sufficient. All
data was transferred to the special program for statistical analysis (SPSS) and
the answers were decoded in numbers to facilitate the measurement itself. There
are three types of data that could be measured in SPSS: scale, ordinal and
nominal (Bryman & Cramer, 2011), but considering current research, all
questions from the poll are nominal. For Values of a nominal measure vary in
categories. It is not possible to rank the categories, to calculate the
difference or relation between them (“yes/no – answers”) (Bryman & Cramer,
2011). Questions 2, 3, 6, 7 were considered as the most relevant for the paper
goals and, hence, for proving hypotheses. All questions are listed in the
appendix at the end of the paper. Descriptive Statistics tools such as
Frequencies and Crosstabs along with Binomial Test and a qualitative
interpretation of noticed correlations were applied in Figure 1.

(Figure 1)

 

To prove H1, firstly,
it has been figured out the frequencies of the answers on Q3 concerning
people’s trust towards candidates who use social networks to communicate with
citizens. Then, to Q3 was applied a Binomial test (non-parametric test), where
it was assumed that the proportion of people whose level of trust to the
candidates’ social media use would be more than 55% (0.55). In order to apply
crosstab method to questions 2 and 3, Q2 frequencies have been found. For
interpretation H2 data (how the use of Facebook increases the electorates’
trust in public authorities), the frequencies and binomial test were applied to
Q6. A test proportion of 85% (0,85) was considered as a percent of people who
would think that it is possible to change citizens’ attitude to a certain candidate
if the candidate conducts his pre-election campaign via Facebook. Lastly,
crosstab method was applied towards Q3 and Q6. For the final hypothesis (H3)
there have been considered the same steps as for previous ones (H1, H2): the
frequencies of Q7, and crosstab for Q6 and Q7. These methods have been used for
getting statistical data, that contributed to rejection/approval of hypothesis.

The current paper aimed to build theory from the data
to develop a better understanding of how social media use affects
election results (Bryman A. , 2012). Sample size established the
reliability of the study results. Because of time limitation, the random sample
technique has been chosen. This technique was chosen in order to escape bias
and prejudice of citizens’ attitude toward political leaders use social media
and to get own independent results. The target audience was established as German
and Russian universities. Online data collection occurred from
25.11.2017 to 25.12.2017 on the Facebook-pages ‘IUBH Bad Honnef’ and ‘Networking:
?????????? ???’ with 4,861 and 1,258 members accordingly. Members from the
first group are mainly students from International University of Applied
Sciences from Bad Honnef, Germany; members from the second group are current
and graduated students and professors from Lomonosov Moscow State University,
School of Public Administration, Russia. After closing our survey, the number
of answers received that can be evaluated achieved 120 people.

 

4.Results and Discussions.

In order to answer the main research
question, firstly, it is important to find out whether people use social
networks as a tool for monitoring world’s political news (Q1). The results of
the survey showed that there are 89 (74%) of respondents check out the latest
news through the social networks, and 31 (26%) of those who do not do it
through them. Basically, it means that 26% of all respondents follow the news
either through traditional media or in practice (respondents from School of
Public Administration are mostly students and professors who have a personal
connection with the public authorities in Russia).  As the majority of respondents use social
networks as a monitoring tool, it makes sense to continue the current research.
The general situation concerning people’s trust towards candidates who use
social networks to communicate with the public (Q3) looks like:

The observed ratio of those who trust such candidates
is 0.47. With the help of SPSS  (Exact
Sig. (1-tailed)) p-value = 0.041. So if the proportion of those whose level of trust
should grow in the entire population is 55% then there is only 4.1% chance to
find them in a sample of 120 people. The hypothesis is usually rejected when
this chance is smaller than 5% (p < 0.05) (Lehmann, 1986), so the ratio of those whose trust would grow is smaller than 55%. Figure 2 reveals that the respondents indicate a high response toward the social networks use by public authorities. The Frequencies of the answers on Q2 as follows:   (Figure 2)        Applying the Binomial test in this case and assuming that the ratio of those who think public authorities should use social networks in order to be closer to citizens equals 85%. In the present research, the observed proportion is 87% and the p-value=0.267 which prove hypothesis of 85%. Finally, to prove H1 answers Q3 and Q2 have been compared, in order to see whether people who expect candidates to communicate to the public via social media, in reality, trust them more than candidates who do not:                Do you trust more to those public authorities who communicate with citizens via social networks?       Yes No Should public authorities use social networks in order to be closer to citizens? Yes 51% (54) 49% (52) No 14% (12) 86% (2) (Table 3)           The analysis in the Table 3 illustrates that the majority of the respondents approve the idea of use of social networks use by politicians. However, at the same time among those who support this point of view, almost half of them (49%) asserted that social media use does not raise their level of trust towards such political leaders. In other words, the use of social media tools became a "must", one of the conventional tools, rather than a winning advantage. A politician nowadays simply cannot go without them.            For proving H2, frequencies of Q6 has been figured out and the Binomial test was applied.  The observed ratio is 87%, the p-value is 26.7% as in the previous case for the Q3. Then to prove H2 Crosstab method for Q3 and Q6 has been made:           Do you trust more to those public authorities who communicate with citizens via social networks? Yes No Does it possible to change citizens' attitude to certain candidate if this candidate conducts his pre-election campaign via Facebook? Yes 45% (54) 42,5% (51) No 2,5% (3) 10% (12)  (Table 4)        The results indicate the same situation as with the previous hypothesis: the majority of respondents believe that the use of Facebook by candidates affects the positive electorate attitude towards them. But among those who think so, almost half of the respondents would not trust the candidate more despite of his (candidate's) activity in this social network. Thus, the use of Facebook has a positive influence on public opinion but using this network as the only driver of manipulation of public opinion is not enough to establish trust between candidates and citizens. Referring to the theoretical foundations, some authors slso pointed out that social networks are vitally important tools for creating the needed level of trust with the electorate (Susila, Dean, & Harness, 2015; Schneider Hahn, Scherer, Basso, & Brachak dos Santos, 2016). However, according to current results, Facebook use as an independent instrument is not effective enough in building trustful relationships with voters.      For the final hypothesis (H3) there have been considered frequencies of the Q7: (Figure 5)  And below crosstab method for Q6 and Q7 was recieved (Table 6):     Is it possible to win elections using FB?                                                                                               Yes   No   I do not know Facebook should serve as an auxiliary, but not the only tool Is it possible to change citizens' attitude to certain candidate if this candidate conducts his pre-election campaign via Facebook?   Yes   42,5%(51)   14% (17)   29% (35)   3% (4)   No   0   6,5% (8)   4% (5)   0   (Table 6) The results shown in Table 6 provide that the majority of respondents consider Facebook use as an influencing tool on the public, among that majority, respondents also see the opportunity to win elections with the help of this social network. Also a significant share of respondents answered "I do not know", which indicates either the incorrectness of the question (one of the respondents expressed such opinion) or its ambiguity. Indeed, those who answered on Q7 in own words, mentioned that Facebook can become a factor in winning elections but just in conjoint with other means and channels. Thus, it can be asserted that Facebook affects chances to win the elections, but only the use of a proper mix of tool and channels, including social media, can actually provide the victory. Taking into consideration all mentioned above and answering the main research question it can be concluded that: Facebook is an instrument that is able to build trustful and consistent relationships with the electorate and hence can influence the electoral choice in favor of a certain politician. However, it is important to note that using solely Facebook might not be effective in winning elections, so it should be used as auxiliary (additional) mean, not the only one. 

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