“Labour won the social media election”
Living in this digital age, it would be almost impossible for digital technology not to have an impact and influence on such a historical event like this year’s general election. It was almost impossible to scroll through your twitter news feed without some kind of Tory hating teenage screaming at you to vote labour so he can conveniently go to university without paying a penny for his tuition fee. It was clear to see that the all the opposing parties in this year’s general election saw social media was a crucial part of a successful campaign.
In the recent years in particular, Social media has become a big part of political campaigning, parties have found new ways to reach to potential supporters. The election battle became an online one this year. Many digital strategists say that it was Labour that outdid the conservatives in the battle for voters on social media for the first time in a major election. So much so that it was shocking to see that Labour weren’t able to beat Conservative’s on June the 8th, needless the say, the social media debates obviously made some impact as the conservatives failed to win the majority Theresa May hoped for.
Even former press adviser to conservatives David Cameron, Giles Kennigham, applauded Labour’s “very polished social media presence”, they knew there audience and how to target them. Conservatives’ on the other hand, digital campaign was described by as ‘unprepared and unresponsive’ (Booth, 2017).
It didn’t go without noticing that the conservative digital strategy heavily focused on attacking the opposing parties to gain seats rather than focusing on defending its own vulnerable seats. It was claimed that the ‘Tories spent more than £1m on negative Facebook adverts attacking Jeremy Corbyn (Kentish, 2017). A series of videos and graphics showing the Labour leader’s past comments on debt, anti-terror laws and the IRA were promoted by the official Tory Facebook and Twitter account.
A leader who supports our armed forces or one who wants to abolish them? The choice is clear: Corbyn and your security is too big a risk.
Posted by Conservatives on Wednesday, 10 May 2017
This video was published on the Conservative’s Facebook and as you can see little effort was put into the video which had 204,000 views. It starts with May saying the Conservatives are “always committed to a strong national defense and supporting the finest armed forces known to man” against two quite clearly edited and framed clips of Jeremy Corbyn saying “wouldn’t it be wonderful if every politician around what the people of Costa Rica have done and abolished their arm” which clearly doesn’t do Labour any favours.
In high contrast, Labour on the other hand who were praised for their digital strategy during this year’s General Election focused on positive campaigning. Unlike the Conservatives they focused on a uplifting campaign and aimed to rally their own supporters rather than slander the opposing parties. Experts argue this is what helped the party with the shock election results although they still fell short of the conservatives.
Labour began early and invested heavily into social media to encourage voters, in particular young people, to register to vote. This obviously paid off as a record number of 622,00 people joined the electoral system in the final 24hours of the registration period alone. Nevertheless both main parties targeted Facebook adverts at specific constituencies, with the Conservatives reported to have focused their campaigning on gaining seats in the north of England.
Corbyn’s social media strategy was supported by many popular campaigning organisations, for example Momentum, who produced its own video and social media content. Evidently, that led to almost a quarter of all UK Facebook users seeing a Momentum video on their Facebook feed in the last week of the campaign alone. May’s strategy was purely fixated on videos to watch, contrast to the Momentum videos that prioritised content that was likely to be shared between friends which led to a more widespread campaign.
If users were sharing the videos it meant that Momentum could spend less on their online marketing campaign, it was claimed the spent as little as £2,000 advertising it content on Facebook. Whereas the Conservatives spent more than £1m on Facebook posts, which were primarily negative messages attacking Jeremy Corbyn and his Labour party.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) June 7, 2017
Labour mindfully ended their campaign with this final video, not the most traditional political format but influential none the less with over 18,202 Re-tweets and 29,458 likes on Twitter. The video included a series of clips of Jeremy Corbyn with members of the public brilliantly connoting his main message of his ‘for the many, not the few’ campaign.