Dr. Tristan Hotham is an expert in social media platforms. From TikTok to Facebook and from Twitter to Discord, Tristan has extensive experience studying and understanding what now defines politics in the social media age.
Tristan holds an ESRC funded PhD at the University of Bath – his thesis was entitled; “How do political parties use Facebook and what does it offer to their campaigns?”. The work examined the Facebook phenomenon and its role as a campaign tool in UK politics. It questioned the impact Facebook is having as a campaign tool online and its wider implications for parties campaigning in an era of party change. The work developed its own theory of social media campaigning. It charted the engagement parties achieved and the content approaches they used to influence us. It also outlined the future trends we will see in digital election campaigns. Following from this work Tristan’s latest preprint can be accessed here; it is a study of Facebook satellite campaigning by Labour group Momentum.
Alongside a PhD, Tristan also holds two Master’s degrees from the Universities of Bath and Durham, alongside a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Exeter.
Dr. Hotham utilizes a combination of quantitative and qualitative methodologies to examine the black box of social media. This wide range of experiences as well as the struggles of studying social media led Tristan to found the Social Media Research Centre, a research house focused on making social media research better. The SMRC has advised and researched for a growing selection of charities, think tanks and businesses.
Tristan has worked as a research consultant for Whotargets.me, which gave him new skills in information dissemination and media outreach. His research for the group was featured on Sky News, Reuters, Evening Standard, Observer and even was talked about on the Andrew Marr Show.
Tristan has a wide base of knowledge and has commented in many media sources on various social media phenomena including; elections, audiences, interactions, news content, communications flow, engagement, big tech policy, social media regulation, content approaches, party politics and campaigning. Tristan or his work has been featured in media such as the BBC, Telegraph, New Statesman, Financial Times and The Economist.
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Tristan also creates videos for the public, you can watch them over on his YouTube channel. Also if you are interested in social media’s impact on the world check out the Social Media Research Centre’s YouTube channel.
My latest blog posts
Short explainer – What psychological tactics are used in political advertising and what are the implication?
Political campaigns use a variety of psychological tactics to influence voter behavior and sway public opinion. One common tactic is the use of emotional appeals, which aim to connect with voters on a deeper level and inspire them to take action. For example, a campaign may use an advertisement that evokes feelings of hope or…
Short explainer – Virtual members? How political party membership is changing.
Virtual membership of political parties has become an increasingly important aspect of party organization and campaign strategy in recent years. Virtual members are individuals who affiliate themselves with a particular party but do not have a formal membership status. While virtual membership can be a valuable resource for parties, allowing them to reach a wider…
Short explainer – Janus-faced campaigning. What is it and why does it matter in the social media age?
Janus-faced campaigning refers to the practice of presenting different messages or positions to different audiences in order to appeal to a wider range of voters. This can be seen as a negative practice, as it can be seen as dishonest or insincere and lead to mistrust and cynicism among voters. The power of social media…
Short explainer – The decline of parties thesis and why it matters
The decline of parties thesis suggests that political parties, which have traditionally played a central role in democratic systems, are losing their influence and relevance. This trend is often attributed to a variety of factors, including the increasing individualization of society, the rise of social media and other forms of digital communication, and the increasing…
Short explainer – What is the personalization of politics? What are the negatives and positives?
The personalization of politics refers to the focus on the personality and characteristics of political candidates, rather than on their policies and positions on issues. While personalization can have some positive effects, such as helping voters to relate to candidates and making politics more engaging for the general public, it can also have negative consequences,…
Short explainer – Why do politicians and parties use social media?
From campaign ads to viral memes, politicians and political parties are using social media to win elections and govern in the digital age. But what drives their use of these platforms, and how do they effectively connect with voters and shape public opinion? Our article delves into the strategies and tactics politicians and parties use…
Short explainer – Do echo chambers (filter bubbles) exist on social media?
Are you trapped in a social media echo chamber? From personalized news feeds to targeted ads, the algorithms behind your favorite platforms are designed to keep you engaged and coming back for more. But at what cost? Our article explores the existence and effects of echo chambers on social media, examining how personalization algorithms and…