Social Media: The Politician’s Best Weapon

This is a guest post by UK-based ICLP.

In case you have been under a rock lately
, the internet has become a formidable force for promoting goods and services to the right people. Almost overnight, the word ‘digital’ has become a key component of the marketing mix. ‘Web2.0’, ‘crowd sourcing’ and ‘user generated’ have all become synonymous with online promotion.

While some companies are still missing the boat, the changes have been long spotted by hawked-eyed campaign advisors. They saw the mileage the can it blend phenomenom got on Youtube. They watched as Levar Burton racked up over 1.6 million followers on Twitter. They checked out Myspace and saw that the Marilyn Manson page had over 47,000 friends.

Over at Facebook, Britney Spears had 2 million fans. So it wasn’t long before we got the first social media president.

The Obama PR machine was the first to take advantage of the massive influence of social media and the result was simply amazing.

After witnessing the role social media played in sweeping Obama into office, the UK political parties quickly followed suit. The aim is to simply duplicate Obama’s recent success.

The table below shows how the UK political battle is currently being waged in social media land. If recent history is any thing to go by, the party with the most social influence will win the war.

Penetration per social network

The conservatives are clearly ahead across all three social media networks. This is not really surprising as the out of the three main parties, they are the only ones who have tried to push the social media envelope. Take for instance their new social media site called Cash Gordon (a word play on Flash Gordon), which uses Facebook and Twitter to further advance their campaign objectives. Labour and the Lib Dems so far have done very little in the way of getting a viral campaign going. This is one of the reasons why they are almost level across the networks.

How the latest polls stack up against the social media figures

According to the latest UK poll, conservatives are in the lead on 38 per cent, with Gordon Brown’s Labour party at 32 per cent. Trailing is the Lib Dems on 19 per cent. The order of the race clearly mimics that of the social media sphere. With a little less than two months to go, all the surveys and polls suggest that the conservatives will form the next government on May 6th 2010. If this happens, the politicians and media pundits will no doubt pay closer attention to social media metrics in the future.

This is a guest post by ICLP, which provides loyalty marketing solutions to help businesses create, retain & grow profitable relationships.

Written by Drea Knufken

Drea Knufken

Currently, I create and execute content- and PR strategies for clients, including thought leadership and messaging. I also ghostwrite and produce press releases, white papers, case studies and other collateral.