General Election 2017: Will social media be a winner at ballot box in Leeds?

VOTE WINNER: Blueclaw senior PR executive Dominic Celica. PIC: Simon Hulme
VOTE WINNER: Blueclaw senior PR executive Dominic Celica. PIC: Simon Hulme
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Dominic Celica, senior PR executive at Leeds digital marketing agency Blueclaw, writes for Digital City about social media and the General Election.

The content marketing and social media team at Blueclaw has been monitoring the social media performance of candidates locally and nationally.

In the wake of the snap election called by Theresa May there is good reason to think that media professor Marshal McLuhan’s statement that the medium is the message holds true in 2017.

For those unfamiliar, the theory proposes that it is not the content of a message that is important, rather the medium through which it is delivered.

Social media is an interesting case – does social reach equate to electoral success? Some candidates in Leeds will be hoping so.

In Leeds Central, the social media reach of Labour’s Hilary Benn massively outstrips Gareth Davies of the Conservatives and Andy Nash of the Liberal Democrats.

Interestingly, only nine Twitter accounts follow all three candidates, indicating that parties may be talking more to existing supporters than new audiences.

Though Andy Nash has been tweeting up a storm, tweeting more frequently and for longer than his rivals, he has a battle to fight to improve on his party’s share of the vote in 2015.

Looking on a national level, as the clear underdogs in this campaign, the strategy team behind Labour and Jeremy Corbyn have prioritised organic social reach to get voters onside.

Whether it is mobilising Twitter storms and hashtags to mock opponents or hijacking trending hashtags to promote party policies, every time you check the trending tab on Twitter, there is vocal support for Corbyn and Labour.

When it comes to party leaders, it’s striking how far ahead Corbyn is in terms of followers and average retweets – though the Prime Minister has a high retweet ratio of 57 per cent.

The campaign heads of each party will be asking similar questions to marketing professionals – does social media reach influence how people think or act?

Though many Conservatives are still anticipating a landslide victory, Labour does possess one of the greatest assets in a content marketer’s toolbox: influencers.

With influential personalities and accounts such as David Schneider and Russell Brand all regularly promoting the Corbyn message and encouraging the younger generation to go out and vote, some commentators are now saying the party can turn social media reach into success at the ballot box despite being written off at the start of the campaign.

The Blueclaw team will continue to analyse the election, uncovering trends and patterns that we can apply to our customer campaigns but the role of digital in the election is fascinating in and of itself.

Tying this all into McLuhan’s theory, besides the odd #relatable GIF and photoshopped image, the Labour party aren’t saying anything radically different on Twitter or Facebook compared to their radio interviews or television appearances.

All that is different is the medium through which their communication is delivered. We’ll see on polling day if it makes a difference.

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