So there we have it. There’s going to be a general election! Bring on almost two months of campaigning that will involve HUGE amounts of advertising and PR by all parties in order to get their messages out to the electorate.
In addition to the traditional methods of electioneering (newspaper/radio/TV/online adverts; flyers; posters; e-mailers; door knocks; rallies; meeting and greeting people etc etc), there will also be a massive amount of campaigning via social media.
Undoubtedly, they’ll be more election content uploaded and shared than during any other recent election. This content will almost certainly include a greater use of video, particularly mobile and live streaming.
Social media won’t just be used by candidates and parties to share content. It will also allow parties to collate and analyze data so they can adapt their messages to the target audience.
But despite the enormous amount of resources political parties will throw at social media, will it actually have an impact on voters? In truth, it’s not a simple yes or no answer.
On one hand, yes, social media will have an impact because it allows candidates a direct means by which to communicate with the voting public, and it gives voters a ‘closer relationship’ with candidates.
But consider this, during the 2015 general election, voter turnout by age group was as follows:
18- 24 year – 43%
25-34 years – 54%
35-44 year – 64%
45-54 years – 72%
55-64 years – 77%
65+ years – 78%
Older people are most likely to vote, but social media usage data shows that older people are less likely to be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc etc. Whereas those who are most likely to be active on social media (18-34 year olds) are the ones who are less likely to vote. So, social media won’t actually influence those who are most likely to vote (the elderly), but it could influence and inspire younger people who use social media to get out and vote.
Ultimately, social media won’t win someone an election, but it will certainly be an important element of every parties’ overall election strategy, running alongside and complementing the traditional methods of electioneering mentioned above. The most effective campaign will utilise a broad range of tools to communicate with the electorate.