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Digital Democracy: Will Social Media Influence How We Vote in the General Election?

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Sophie Monks

Senior Social Specialist

The General Election is just around the corner, but do you know who you’re voting for yet? The manifestos have been released and the debates have aired, but a surprising amount of people are turning to social media to help them decide who to vote for.
 
Two in three online adults now have a current social networking profile and politicians now recognise the power of Facebook and Twitter when communicating their message. So could the 2015 general election be the year that social media changes our country? Certainly.

Why Politicians Should Have Social Media Accounts

 
It’s Free – Leafleting, signs and even public debates all cost money to create, whereas social media is completely free (well, apart from the cost of your Wi-Fi connection). The only investment it requires is… time. Social media platforms like Twitter allow politicians to reach thousands of people in their constituency for a fraction of the price as other marketing methods.
 
Get the Real Person Out There – Let’s face it, politicians don’t always have the best reputation, but social media can help.
 
An online presence which promotes both political points and personal elements can show voters who a candidate really is.
 
Whether they have children, where they live and what they do in their spare time are all important factors in humanising these figureheads. After all, we’re more likely to vote for someone who is relatable, aren’t we?
 
Appeal to Our Youth – Teenagers these days are attached to their mobile devices 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So social marketing makes the perfect solution for informing young voters about their options through short to-the-point snippets.
 
Listen to the People – The role of a local MP is to represent their area and the issues that the residents feel are important. Social media monitoring is an easy way of finding exactly what people think and which issues are most important to them.
 
It’s still beneficial for politicians to get out there and pound the streets to speak to people, but geo-targeted keywords will give an insight into what people are saying online too.
 
Communicate with Voters – Once MPs know what issues are important they can then engage, and maybe even impress, potential voters by replying to the points raised. How shocked would you be if you got a reply from a tweet about politics!?
 

Social Media and the 2015 General Election So Far

 
So how are the political parties doing with social media so far? All the parties have accounts, but are people responding positively to these modern changes?
 
Well, according to ElectUK, the Tata Consultancy Services app which tracks social media mentions of the general election, the Conservatives are seeing the best results.
 
Within 24 hours of the Conservative manifesto being released the party’s share of Twitter mentions rose 5% on its monthly average. This in comparison with its nearest competitor, Labour, is much higher. However, Labour has a considerably larger monthly average.
 
At the same time, positive sentiment increased by 7.7% for the Tories, but only 3.8% for Labour.
 
But who’s ahead in the Twitter follower count?
 
Labour – 204k followers
Conservative – 151k followers
Liberal Democrats – 92k followers
Greens – 130k followers
UKIP – 97.4k followers
Plaid Cymru – 17.7k followers
SNP – 88.3k followers
 

What Are Our Local Candidates Saying?

 
The Labour candidate for Cardiff North, Mari Williams, was photographed in a classic political greeting when she met this cute little guy recently…
 
…whereas the Conservative candidate, Craig Williams, has been thanking volunteers for their commitment in helping him canvas the local area.
 

So, will social media influence how we vote in the general election? It’s very likely with such an online presence, but there are also other important factors involved.

 
What’s your opinion about the effect of politics on the world of social media? Tweet us with what you think!

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By

Sophie Monks

Senior Social Specialist

Sophie has over 6 years of experience in the social media and content space, working in both in-house organisations and agencies. She has worked with exciting established brands in her time such as Campari, Aperol Spritz, Oppo Ice Cream and PayPal Australia. She enjoys the content creation process – from mapping out the shot and…

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