Social media in the General Election: Voters will take to the polling stations tomorrow to vote for their preferred political party for this general election. Each party will have their own marketing budget to focus on PR, advertising, radio interviews and rallies; but just how much time and resources has been put into social media?
Social media in the general election undoubtedly allows each party to showcase their message to a wider and more defined audience, with greater emphasis placed on video and live streaming.
A huge benefit of using social media in the 2017 general election is that it allows the parties to continuously share their content and political messages to all their followers. Additionally, using social media, as opposed to distributing leaflets, allows the parties to collate and analyse data from their online campaigns. For instance, how many views, clicks through etc. have there been? Again, it’s a simple test and measure technique that allows them to tweak and adapt their message to their intended audience.
In this general election, some parties have placed a greater emphasis on opening a stronger dialogue between the public and politicians, mainly due to Brexit. Social media allows a platform for people to communicate with candidates, tell them their thoughts, their disgruntles. In some aspects, it creates a greater relationship between both parties. I guess the question here is this: Is it only digitally artificial, or is the public’s thoughts being taken into consideration? They are, at least, being shared.
General election 2015
18-24 years – 43%
25-34 years – 54%
35-44 years – 64%
45-54 years – 72%
55-64 years – 77%
65+ years – 78%
If we look at the voter turnout by age group from the 2015 general election we can see an increase in voter percentage amongst the elderly.
This is no major surprise; older people are more likely to vote, but social media usage suggests that they are less likely to be signed up to social media platforms. Conversely, the age group that is most likely to be on social media has the lowest percentage of voter turnout. The point I’m making here is this: If you are a regular voter, social media might not influence who you are most likely going to vote for, but it could be used to influence younger people to get out and vote.
Every party has social media channels: Twitter and Facebook as their primary social platform. But some truly interesting behaviour has occurred during this campaign.
Whilst doing a Facebook Live with ITV, Theresa May was taking questions from social media users messaging in, only to be messaged by the leader of Labour, Jeremy Corbyn. May responded by stating that she was primarily taking questions from voters, but did also answer Jeremy’s housing question.
More recently, Jeremy Corbyn signed up to do a Facebook live with the Big Issue magazine, hosted by UNILAD. Again, using the power of live video combined with UNILAD’s average demographic, is strongly promoting the labour party amongst the younger voters.
Just earlier this week I personally came across a Conservative Party advert on Snapchat. I can’t recall there being Snapchat adverts in the last election (I don’t think Snapchat allowed adverts in 2015), but nevertheless, would a political party have used this social platform to promote their message at the last election? I’m unsure.
The Lib Dems, SNP, UKIP and Greens have also run their social media campaigns. Especially in Scotland, Sturgeon, Davidson, Dugdale and Harvie are all very active on Twitter, continuously interacting with people and sharing content.
In the 2017 General Election, a single social media campaign won’t single-handedly win the election. However, in the next 24 hours, it will play an important part in the party’s overall strategy and complement the traditional methods of gaining more votes.
Will the younger demographic voters’ turnout percentage increase due to social media? I guess we will just have to see who walks into 10 Downing Street after the 8th.