The role of social media in the UK General Election


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Lisa's preso at Chester Business School Workshop, 8th October 2010

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The role of social media in the UK General Election

  1. 1. Social media in politics: ultimate voter engagement tool or simply an echo chamber? <br />By Lisa Harris and Paul Harrigan<br />Chester, October 2010<br />
  2. 2. Biogs<br />Dr. Lisa Harris(@lisaharris) is a Senior Lecturer in Marketing in the School of Management at the University of Southampton. She is Course Director of the MSc programmes in Digital Marketing and Marketing Analytics. Her research interests lie in the disruptive role of technology in marketing and education. <br /> <br />Dr. Paul Harrigan(@drpaulharrigan) is a Lecturer in Marketing in the School of Management at the University of Southampton. He has an MSc in Marketing and Entrepreneurship and a PhD in Marketing, both from the University of Ulster. His research interests centre on the marketing activities of SMEs, with a particular focus on the role of ICT.<br />
  3. 3. “Change we can believe in”<br />$28m average raised per month in online donations during 2008<br />92m views of display ads per month<br />2.2m site visitors per month<br />9.8m video views on YouTube<br />5,455,665 supporters of the Obama Facebook Group<br />285,467 followers on Twitter<br />
  4. 4. Made in the USA...<br />“Barack Obama understood that you could use the Web to lower the cost of building a political brand, create a sense of connection and engagement, and dispense with the command and control method of governing to allow people to self-organize to do the work.” (New York Times, 9th November 2008)<br />
  5. 5. There were some great examples of comedy and creativity... <br />
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  8. 8. This video (and comments) is still viewable on YouTube...<br />
  9. 9. Some stats<br />
  10. 10. Key findings of previous research <br />Many politicians lack ‘savvy’ in these online marketing approaches (Harris and Lock 2005)<br />Political marketing is about much more than communications; it also includes data, analytics, insight and value-creation (Henneberg and O’Shaughnessy 2007/2009)<br />Political marketing must be a continuous, ongoing process as part of the development of a strategic ‘value proposition’ and long-term positioning of a political party (Harris and Lock 2010). <br />
  11. 11. Martin Tod @mpntod<br />
  12. 12. @SandraGidley<br />
  13. 13. Our findings<br />Some success with recruiting student helpers via Facebook, but most social media communications tended to be with people who were already supporters #gomartintod<br />Although effective with their individual efforts, there was no co-ordinated strategy across the party, or resource provision for candidates <br />The reference to social media as a ‘liberal democrat echo chamber’ was pretty accurate<br />If used well, social media can provide useful insight into the activities and personalities of prospective MPs in real time<br />
  14. 14. #gomartintod<br />Just voted for @mpntod - hope he wins it... #gomartinTod#ukvoteThursday 06 May 2010 13:52:30<br /> <br />Everyone I've spoken to in Winchester today has voted for @mpntod#gomartintodThursday 06 May 2010 13:48:33<br /> <br />Just voted for @mpntod, very best of luck to him. #gomartintodThursday 06 May 2010 10:20:22<br /> <br />#gomartintod will be voting for @mpntod, best guy for the job, a vote well spent! Thursday 06 May 2010 09:59:08<br /> <br />Time to go and give @mpntod a big kiss on my ballot paper. X marks the Tod! #gomartintodThursday 06 May 2010 08:52:26<br /> <br />Amused by this letter in the Times. Our poster volunteers have done a great job! #gomartintod 04 May 2010 12:48:47<br />
  15. 15. #nickcleggsfault<br /> Increased interest in otherwise boring election between two hopeless parties is definitely #nickcleggsfault<br />The BP Garage near my house running out of Double Decker bars. #nickcleggsfault The volcanic eruption? That was #NickCleggsFault too<br /> Third World Debt #nickcleggsfault<br /> Nick Clegg was on the grassy knoll on November 22nd 1963 #nickcleggsfault<br />
  16. 16. 5 months on...the jokes can begin <br />
  17. 17. Summary:a social media *fail*<br />Despite the best efforts of those (few) politicians who really ‘get’ social media: <br />the parties tended to view social media as new forms of old channels, using them as broadcasting tools<br />they continue to fear the lack of control and probing transparency that truly engaging with social media involves <br />social media were not integrated into an effective combination of online and offline comms as part of a systematic and long term relationship building strategy<br />
  18. 18. What next?<br />Future research should examine politicians’ use of social media across a broader range of constituencies, and track its ongoing use post-election, as the field is developing so quickly. <br />By the next election there could be an online public-facing ‘one stop shop’ for politics, which aggregates content around candidates, constituencies and parties, posing new marketing challenges. <br />Ironic to observe that social media is now being used against Obama in the USA, as his opponents learn the lessons from his success and apply them to diminish his accumulated social capital. <br />Possible implications of technological developments extend way beyond the marketing arena: <br /> “As more mainstream politicians take to the web, with their carefully calculated YouTube channels and social-network profiles, so they could diminish its radical potential. The web could become a tool for politics as usual. And even if the web does not benefit the old elite it could well create a new elite to take its place, the technorati who are adept at using the web for political purposes” (Leadbeater, 2009)<br />
  19. 19. Thank you <br />The slides are on my blog:<br />Email –<br />Twitter - @lisaharris<br />