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.

  • Sarah

    The graph and data don’t match – Conservative and Liberal are mixed. The text seems to support the graph.

  • Phil

    “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.”

    I think the author must have been asleep for the last two and a half weeks of the campaign if they think this is the case.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/election_2010/8280050.stm shows the polls haven’t looked like that since before the first televised (old media) debate.

    Media – both old and new – have been running with the ‘hung parliament’ (no overall winner) narrative for a while now so this article is either seriously out of date, or deliberately obfuscating to an audience who probably aren’t following the goings on of the election that closely.

    Trying to prove causality through a simple bar chart (where’s the conversations? who’s being retweeted the most?) and an anonymous old poll (which polling firm? What’s their methodology? How do they weight samples due to past voting behaviour which might not apply to first time voters who are major users of social media?) is lazy and misleading.

    This is the kind of overblown hype that damages our efforts to show the genuine value of social media.

  • LFDD

    Where is the raw information? The datasets that you base these charts on?

    You say “Labour and the Lib Dems so far have done very little in the way of getting a viral campaign going”

    This is not true as any search of Facebook and Twitter will show.

    This is a very poorly researched article which pays no attention to how viral marketing/campaigning starts and spreads. There is no distinction between officially sanctioned campaigns and those started by supporters themsleves.

    The results of http://www.v3.co.uk/v3/news/2262503/facebook-touts-success-online make mockery of your thesis.

  • Hi this information was written before the first televised debate.

    We should have dated it so it shows when it was written so that there is not a mix up of the article postdate and when it was actually written.