We all read the articles, we all saw the social feeds, this was to the be the #socialmediaelection that would take us by storm. Finally the people would have their say by using social media channels more advanced and intelligent than ever before, even just 5 short years ago. And indeed there was a lot of talk, much discussion, debate, many reasons put forward why we should vote. But mostly from us. Normal people and clever people we call ‘opinion leaders’. However surprisingly little seemed to be done by the politicians themselves, other than what you’d expect. The type of propaganda that’s been around for hundred’s of years.
In an age where a brand can analyse down to the last 40 characters what people think of it, where they are talking about it, who they are talking to and what else they are saying about it, it’s extraordinary to think of the power a decent bit of social media analysis could have given the main parties. But maybe they weren’t actually listening.
Peter Kellner, CEO of YouGov said “What seems to have gone wrong is that people have said one thing and they did something else in the ballot box.” He said: “We are not as far out as we were in 1992, not that that is a great commendation.” No indeed it isn’t…
But he also says that politicians shouldn’t actually rely so much on data but instead stand for what they believe in. Which is all well and good in a wonderful utopian world where standing for what you believe in actually works in a dirty election campaign. When you have Lynton Crosby, aka “The Wizard of Oz” on your media strategy side, your opponents are in trouble from the start.
But more than just standing for what they believe in, which let’s face it, is pretty basic in politics isn’t it? I believe, correct me if I’m wrong, that that is what all the parties are actually based on, they need to listen to people. What the Conservatives did well, it now seems, is push really hard on the open doors and a bit harder on the ones that were slightly ajar. I could press this metaphor but I’m in danger of losing my point. Rather than going for EVERYONE, which is ,frankly, impossible, they focussed on where they knew they could win.
One other thing really stood out for me this election. As a woman I was constantly reminded of my right and indeed my duty to vote. The Suffragettes had suffered, they had fought, they had died goddamnit and how could I a woman in 2015 not exercise my right to vote.
This was prevailed upon me every time I looked at Facebook. There were other smart memes that urged us to vote, notably from the Guardian with an interesting look at how the voting systems works and this one below that explained by a real live ‘young person’ why it’s so important (to vote Labour unsurprisingly).
This alone was what made this the #socialmediaelection to me. The fact that the channels were being used to urge action. Not just postulate on the rights and wrongs of the various parties, but to actually make people DO SOMETHING. Which is what we, as PR people, know is the point of social channels. Share great content and provoke reaction. Simple.