The 2015 Election is perhaps a very different Election in comparison to all those that have come previously. This is due to a whole different aspect being added to the campaigns of the Political Parties, the social media aspect. This Election has seen a shift from direct marketing to digital, with some parties focussing more on digital marketing than others. Of course, the introduction of digital marketing has it’s advantages, allowing parties to reach the public instantly, and to reach those who may not have been reached previously, young people. The activity on social media varies from party to party, and we want to take a look at which party we think would win the General Election based on digital marketing alone. This judgement is based purely on the quality of online activity by the parties, and has no relation whatsoever to their policies or actions.
If you want to see hundreds of photo’s of David Cameron, the Conservatives Facebook page certainly is the place to go! When it comes to numbers, the Conservatives are outdoing all other British Political parties by almost double on Facebook with their 409,000 page likes. This is reflected in their post statistics, often gaining thousands of likes on a single post. The Conservatives know how to influence their following, they often include phrases like ‘share if you agree’, making those who agree with their opinions feel obligated to repost their message. The page also features high quality design, with posts always containing imagery that is clear and persuasive, often giving statistics about Labour.
Labour have the second largest amount of likes, with 244,000 on their main page. Compared with the Conservatives, they struggle to get many likes on their posts, rarely reaching the thousand mark. The posts are mostly images with huge fonts, almost shouting at the reader, which can be highly effective. The majority of these posts are anti-Conservative, rather than about Labour themselves. There are however, a few posts about what Labour can offer, with photos of Ed Miliband being more hands on, which is something that works well for them.
The Liberal Democrats have perhaps the most inviting Facebook page of the top three parties, although they really could do with changing their header, (not the most flattering photo of Nick Clegg). With only 109,000 likes, they fail to hit the big numbers, possibly due to their lack of budget for digital marketing. The tactic used by the Liberal Democrats, is to ask people to share the post, informing people that they do not have the budget to advertise on Facebook themselves. This tactic certainly seems to work, with hundreds of loyal supporters sharing their posts for them. The Liberal Democrats are even running a Facebook competition to win dinner with John Cleese, which shows creativity on their part, rather than just bombarding the public with political claims.
The front-runner in terms of Twitter follower count, Labour have amassed 203,000 followers. Their tactic is to repeat the same messages over and over again, with the same images being posted several times. Their use of the Twitter ‘banner’ space is highly effective, with the words ‘vote for our NHS’ on a very detailed cartoon image. Their Twitter banner is certainly the most eye-catching of all the top three parties, and makes their page very appealing to look at.
The Conservatives are not too far behind, with 151,000 followers. Their tactics are not very different, with similar images of large text, shouting at the reader. The Conservatives are the political party that make the best use of hashtags, showing that they are making efforts to adapt to social media well.
If you want a Twitter timeline absolutely filled with tweets, coming in too fast to even read them, the Liberal Democrats are the right people to follow! Their 92,000 followers are most likely used to the constant influx of tweets, but the number of interactions on each tweet is definitely suffering due to this. With so many tweets coming in, the large majority of Liberal Democrat tweets are only receiving between 5 and 10 Retweets each. That being said, their page design is highly visually attractive, with plenty of high quality images and videos.
Out of the top three political parties, Labour are the only party who even own an Instagram account. Not only is Instagram an ideal platform for promoting a product (or in this case a political party), it is constantly growing. Using the right hashtags on Instagram also makes it incredibly easy for people to find your content, spreading the message faster and further. It is surprising that the rest of the parties are yet to join the Instagram craze. Labour use their Instagram account extremely effectively, with eye catching images filling their page. Labour also own a Tumblr account, and have even adopted the use of gifs!
As for the other political parties, the most social media affluent are in fact the Green Party and the SNP. Both of these parties have a large following, and high quality digital marketing strategy. UKIP are doing well where numbers are concerned, but their page is certainly lacking in quality of design, unlike other parties. However, their banner is hugely effective, with a very clear message and standing out strongly as a great asset to their page. Plaid Cymru are certainly putting a high volume of effort into campaigning on social media, but it is failing to take off due to a lack of ‘likes’, giving their posts a very small audience.
Overall, the political parties are far better at using Facebook than they are at using other social media platforms. Each political party uses social media well, all having different strong points and weaknesses in their campaigns. Based on numbers alone, the Conservatives have the upper hand in digital marketing, although that certainly does not mean that they are the best at it. The Liberal Democrats are producing the most visual, eye catching, friendly campaigns, and are showing the highest adaptability to social media platforms. Then again, Labour are the only political party seeing potential in all platforms, and making the effort to spread their message further. Due to this, any one of the political parties could earn the social media vote, as they all have strengths and weaknesses.