the role of social media in the uk general election

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Social media in politics: the ultimate voter engagement tool or simply an echo chamber?

Social media in politics: ultimate voter engagement tool or simply an echo chamber?

By Lisa Harris and Paul HarriganChester, October 2010

BiogsDr. 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. 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.

Change we can believe in$28m average raised per month in online donations during 200892m views of display ads per month2.2m site visitors per month9.8m video views on YouTube5,455,665 supporters of the Obama Facebook Group285,467 followers on Twitter

Made in the USA...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)

There were some great examples of comedy and creativity...

www.twitter.com/nick_clegg

www.twitter.com/vincecable

This video (and comments) is still viewable on YouTube...

Some stats

Key findings of previous research Many politicians lack savvy in these online marketing approaches (Harris and Lock 2005)Political marketing is about much more than communications; it also includes data, analytics, insight and value-creation (Henneberg and OShaughnessy 2007/2009) 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).

Martin Tod @mpntod

@SandraGidley

Our findingsSome success with recruiting student helpers via Facebook, but most social media communications tended to be with people who were already supporters #gomartintodAlthough effective with their individual efforts, there was no co-ordinated strategy across the party, or resource provision for candidates The reference to social media as a liberal democrat echo chamber was pretty accurateIf used well, social media can provide useful insight into the activities and personalities of prospective MPs in real time

#gomartintodJust voted for @mpntod - hope he wins it... #gomartinTod #ukvote Thursday 06 May 2010 13:52:30 Everyone I've spoken to in Winchester today has voted for @mpntod #gomartintod Thursday 06 May 2010 13:48:33Just voted for @mpntod, very best of luck to him. #gomartintod Thursday 06 May 2010 10:20:22 #gomartintod will be voting for @mpntod, best guy for the job, a vote well spent! Thursday 06 May 2010 09:59:08Time to go and give @mpntod a big kiss on my ballot paper. X marks the Tod! #gomartintod Thursday 06 May 2010 08:52:26 Amused by this letter in the Times. Our poster volunteers have done a great job! #gomartintod http://bit.ly/9aCRt9 Tuesday 04 May 2010 12:48:47

#nickcleggsfault Increased interest in otherwise boring election between two hopeless parties is definitely #nickcleggsfault

The BP Garage near my house running out of Double Decker bars. #nickcleggsfault

The volcanic eruption? That was #NickCleggsFault too

Third World Debt #nickcleggsfault

Nick Clegg was on the grassy knoll on November 22nd 1963 #nickcleggsfault

5 months on...the jokes can begin

Summary: a social media *fail*Despite the best efforts of those (few) politicians who really get social media: the parties tended to view social media as new forms of old channels, using them as broadcasting toolsthey continue to fear the lack of control and probing transparency that truly engaging with social media involves 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

What next?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. 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. 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. Possible implications of technological developments extend way beyond the marketing arena: 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)

Thank you The slides are on my blog: www.lisaharrismarketing.comEmail l.j.harris@soton.ac.ukTwitter - @lisaharris

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