In the UK, the election is getting into full swing. Each party is finalizing or releasing their manifesto and the spin is beginning to hit the maximum RPM.
We have seen that the spend on election campaigns has increased significantly this year, much to the dismay of all parties except the conservatives, who many have predicted to be spending more than any other by a factor of 3.
This has meant that the other parties have been turning to social media in order to improve their ROI and decrease their campaign spends in marketing to try and focus on other areas.
To counter this, the Conservatives have been attempting to hit social media just as hard as other parties as they realize the importance that it has. This is a direct contradiction of what David Cameron said a few years ago when he claimed that it was only tw*ts who use it.
So we rate how the main two main parties are doing on their social media endeavours on the two most popular sites, Facebook and Twitter.
Twitter Followers: 148K (at time of writing)
Facebook Likes: 378,636 (at time of writing)
Twitter Followers: 196K (at time of writing)
Facebook Likes: 234,599 (at time of writing)
The two main parties are both using social media excessively to get their points across, which currently seems to be discussing how the other party is terrible and will destroy the country.
Regardless of the message, the important aspects to look at is how they are using their social media campaigns and how effectively they are doing it.
On Twitter, Labour has the advantage given that they are currently around 50,000 followers ahead of the conservatives. Numbers alone do not tell the entire story though.
I think that the Labour team is more effective in what they are doing, not only due to the number of followers that they have, but also in the type of content that they are creating.
We have seen that the company or person who creates good content, are generally going to get better results.
With this in mind, I would say that Labour have the edge over the Conservatives as the content they have created is better designed and more engaging. The Conservative offerings are generally more formal, less fun and the design is much more basic, with photos behind with words superimposed on top.
The reason that Labour wins this round is also because they have not had a major gaffe in their social media work on Twitter so far during the campaign. The conservatives on the other hand have produced a video that deliberately cut an important sentence from the Shadow Chancellor to mislead the public. Rather than saying that this was a mistake tactically, it merely showed a lack of understanding of the internet, where the original video was found and analyzed within minutes and their editing was shown up.
The Conservatives have considerably more likes that Labour on this front, with 144,000 more on Facebook that Labour.
Again, here they suffer from a real lack of creative spark with much of the content they create and use similar images throughout, with pictures of happy/sad people imposed with text.
What they have done well though is create a platform where their supporters have been very vocal in their support both on their own page and across others.
This may come from having a larger audience on Facebook (largely an ageing user base) compared to their core supporters (largely older voters). Despite the lack of creativity in much of what has been made, they have managed to foster a community that has backed them vocally.
This is something that companies know is key to social media success and in this way the Conservatives have managed to foster a more vocal audience than their rivals.
Across these platforms both have strengths, but the parties have each approached it in slightly different ways.
Labour have certainly thought more about their production quality, whilst the Conservatives have managed to create a more vocal backing through their followers.
The Conservatives have managed to gain more followers through their domination on Facebook, but this should be attributed to being the party in power throughout the time when social media has really spread.
Both followings reflect the demographics of their voters, with Labour beating the Conservatives on Twitter, where the demographic is generally younger, whilst the Conservatives beat Labour on Facebook, which has an older audience. This is not coincidence and clearly reflects the demographics of both the political parties and the social media platforms.
Between the two it is hard to establish a winner as both have adopted different approaches. However, in terms of understanding social media and not making any gaffes so far, I am awarding it to Labour, purely on the basis that the Conservatives have the single mistake with their poorly edited video.