Ah, the social election! A somewhat unpaved and treacherous path full of unexpected twists, turns and bumps.
When it comes to our elections here in the UK, using social media to strengthen your lead is a relatively new phenomenon. Yes, past elections have been been crowned our ‘first social elections’ but this time around things are slightly different. Never before have we seen parties and candidates engaging with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter on such an intense level.
It is important to note that even though the election has become more social this time around, virality is still a work in progress. One cannot know what the exact formula is when it comes to getting people to engage with your posts, talk about them (and you) and like what you are doing online.
The Guardian have provided a mention graph (see below) that clearly shows Labour as front runners. Unfortunately these don’t show whether all the mentions are positive, so don’t get carried away! However all publicity is good publicity, right?
In contrast to the party mentions, here we can see Cameron at the forefront of the party leaders mentions.
Another graph the Guardian have put together shows the number of mentions during key policy changes or debates. For example, Labour saw a significant spike in the graph around April 8th, when the party announced it would scrap the non-dom tax status. Pretty interesting right?
Social media stats have also provided an insight into what we actually care about when it comes to election policies. It might surprise you to know that the economy has nearly 4.5 million mentions. Close behind is crime (2,053,223) and then health (1,781,698). These figures will be reassuring for the Conservatives who are be perceived to be in a position of strength if the election becomes a vote about our economy.
Sadly for UKIP, immigration landed in fifth place with only 685,00 mentions, and Europe was placed 11th, below foreign affairs and devolution. Perhaps time for a strategy rethink, Nigel?
The parties are keeping their social media spending figures under wraps. We do know that the Conservatives have allocated £100,000 a month for Facebook advertising, and by comparison Labour are said to be injecting only £10,000 a month into their own Facebook presence: a substantial difference!
UKIP has certainly invested a fair amount into their social campaign. They were originally inspired by Italian comedian Beppe Grillo, who built a successful political movement from nowhere via social media during the 2013 Italian election.
Research shows that candidates who are more open about their real selves on social media are achieving the most success. Generic posts candidates send out about nationwide policies aren’t received as well as local messages. Twitter users are enjoying interacting with their social MP’s on a human level.
When Nick Clegg appeared on ‘The Last Leg’, called Boris Johnson a twat and confessed to wanting to slap David Cameron, he achieved his strongest moment on social media to date. Perhaps because people agreed, but also because people found this expression to be a great deal more genuine and real.