The election date was announced on April the 6th and a month on we have seen a very exciting political response, much of this has been generated by Social Media. Social Media allows people to really have a voice for the firsttime ever before, if Emmeline Pankhurst had a blog, Twitter and other Social Media I can imagine her being even more powerful than she was. The social media battle between the main parties will come to an end tonight as the votes are counted and we see if we will have a new Prime Minister or a hung parliament.
The main parties in contention for seats have been Labour, Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats but how has each party used Social Media for their campaign, or has it worked against them?
I’ll start with the underdogs, in the first week of April the Liberal Democrats were the waste of a vote, disgruntled Labour supporters who wanted change but could remember Margaret Thatchers rein not to vote Conservative were told to Vote Lib Dem would be a waste of a vote.
However the voices of people who were angry at the two main parties for their policies, their underhand pushing through of the Digital Economy Bill and the expenses scandal, rose up in unison meaning if enough people wasted their votes on the Liberal Democrats then Nick Clegg could be a contender!
Nick Cleggs debating skills put him firmly ahead of the other two parties in support and Twitter users became very vocal after the #leadersdebate. Once the tabloids realised he was worth column inches, they decided it was only fair to attack him the way they do most influential or famous people. Twitter lashed back and the satirical #nickcleggsfault started to trend as Nick Clegg was blamed for the Volcano erupting, Facebook going down, and even not having enough filling in your lunch time sandwich. This was great exposure for the leader of the Liberal Democrats, and his name and Lib Dems became a popular trending topic over the next few weeks.
Although Nick Clegg had a lot of support from the Twitter Community he didn’t communicate much through the platform as @NickClegg which given the opportunity could have been a real crowd pleaser. Nick Clegg and his team have been quite active on Facebook however with regular updates and interesting posts, causing many people to comment or ‘like’ what he is doing.
Our government who have been in power for a number of years now headed up the less than charismatic Gordon Brown have been much more savvy. However with public support at an all time low, due to the Credit Crunch, the wars, the expenses scandal etc (much of which Gordon inherited) they had a lot of work to do to win back support.
And they have done quite a good job #whyimvotinglabour hashtag gave them some good presence, and even showed some humour with the #whyimvotingconservative but giving some very amusing and sarcastic answers worthy of a ReTweet.
The #leadersdebate didn’t bode well for Gordon Brown as he was overshadowed by Nick Clegg in all three debates and even got beat by David Cameron on a few issues, this was a running commentary on Twitter, but the Labour team didn’t use this opportunity to engage with people, explaining tactics/policies, questioning and responding propoerly to criticism.
Labour where the only party to activley use You Tube (that we saw, if other parties did they didn’t do it well if we didn’t notice) they got celebrity endorsments with charachters like Bill Bailey and Eddie Izzard doing skits about how we should Vote Labour, the problem with this was it was difficult to tell if they were being ironic. Perhaps a different style of comedian or celebrity would be better next time.
Labour was involved in a small scandal, the conservatives embraces PPC advertising, however Labour Tweeted that people should click on these to use up the Conservatives budget, this is blatant click fraud and caused the PPC and SEM community to spread this fact.
The Tories were the only party to really use Pay Per Click properly, with tactical keywords such as bidding on opposing parties names. A really clever one was if you type in “who won the leaders debate?”, you get a Conservative advert saying David Cameron won. This was a much more strategic campaign and may have fooled some less savvy Google users.
The Conservatives used David Cameron as their pin up boy, this was heavily airbrushed, leaving it a huge target (literally on billboards)or vandalism. The Digital community used these images to set up a spoof website this was ignored by the Conservative team, whether they felt it was good exposure or not, they didn’t realise the trust implications of this and the crowd mentality of when someone is targeting an individual or party. This should have been nipped in the bud very quickly.
A long with the ironic #imvotingconservativebecause on Twitter their started a #Imnotvotingconservativebecause hash tag which is still trending today on voting day. With each celebrity endorsment came a backlash from Twitter i.e.”Gary Barlow endorses Conservatives not a surprise from a multimillionaire” etc.
The Conservatives did try a Twitter campaign with #cashgordon trying to get the Twitter community to expose Gordon Brown’s capabilitis since the credit crunch. They fed this into their website without thinking about moderation, many people added redirects through a loophole and before you knew it the site was full of anti-Conservative messages. It took the conservatives about 6 hoursto close the site after some dodgy re directs to the labour website as well as some adult sites.
I thought it would be best to mention the effect Social Media has had on the BNP campaign, many people support BNP because a lot of their policies are quite cloudy but Twitter and Facebook groups have been working hard to expose their policies, main and lesser known, meaning they have lost some support from naive voters. After the last local election BNP won a lot of seats, mostly due to people not voting or not understanding and not wanting to vote for Labour or Conservatives. This time social media has made sure people are more aware of policies.
Time to Vote
The SEO Creative team are off to vote now, and no we’re not letting on who we’re voting for! But this election has meant more people are excited about the election and social media has given people voices, as well as given parties the chance to explain their policies.
Some really good sites have been set up to help voters pick a policy and information on the parties is easier than ever to find.
Once you’ve voted remember to Tweet the hash tag #justvoted