Manifestos, Election Fever and Social Media

I think it is quite clear that social media is going to be a significant factor that shapes this UK election whether it is Labour, Conservative or the Liberal Democrats.

With the respective manifesto launch it will be a challenge to get the message out especially to first-time voters. For the major parties, social media has become essential tool to target new audiences who may have been previously disaffected or disinterested in politics.

This is the first time that social media will play a part in a UK Election and no-one knows exactly how this will play out. It is all uncharted territory. I imagine many of their strategies are based upon what happened in the US Election of 2008. The Obama campaign certainly was a solid case study but times have changed a lot since then. Both social media and people's experience of it have evolved so no-one can really predict what will happen. Businesses are now taking social media more seriously and it is an almost indispensible tool for the personal lives of many.

With that in mind here are some interesting election social media figures.....

At the time of writing the number of followers for each party on Twitter are:

Conservative - 25,939
Labour - 14,048
Liberal Democrats - 12,430

However if you look at number of YouTube views of main party videos the figures are as follows:

Labour - 'Labour Manifesto 2010: A future fair for all' posted (posted 11/04/10)- 41,226
Conservative - 'An Invitation to join the government of Britain' (posted 13/04/10)- 26,989
Liberal Democrats - David Laws: Election 2010 Manifesto Launch (posted 14/04/10) - 187

This provides interesting snap-shot of what is going on social media wise for each of the parties but by no means the big picture. What the future holds is anyone's guess. I anticipate lots of twists and turns in the coming weeks.

As I recall, the US election between Obama and McCain became a mudslinging match before the end. Remember that guy 'Joe the Plumber'? However, Obama was very successful in getting his messages out on social media and it is beyond doubt that it played big part in his election win. Also it was his positive messages like 'change' were the ones that seemed to resonate most with the voters. This is something that I am sure Mr Cameron has been somewhat influenced by in his campaign, 'vote for change'.

As with US election we are seeing a fair bit of mudslinging here in the UK regarding tax, National Insurance and other policies. It is a shame that election politics all to often is about rubbishing opposing parties policies rather than focusing on actual value they could add to the country.

UK politics has been thrown in the deep end with the social media world. It will be interesting to see what effect it has in the coming weeks as the election hits fever pitch...