General Election: They’re out the digital starting blocks
- April 7, 2010
- by James Lowery
The “online constituency” played a defining role in the US presidential election. This has made it imperative that the UK’s major political parties follow Obama’s example and engage thoroughly with the digital space in the build up to May’s election.
We have initially looked at some stats from Google Blog Search to see what % of the voice each of the major parties has had over the last month, week and day:
This suggests that Labour have managed to gain some ground on the Tories initial sprint start to the campaign. However, as a poll of who is in the lead right now, the Tories were ahead (a lot) whilst the Lib Dems were barely on the radar:
What’s really interesting is how the parties are managing the opinions about them in the blogosphere. The following graph shows the % of good and bad blog posts over the past month, week and day:
This suggests that Labour have done a pretty good job of getting a positive message out to the blog reading public in the run up to the start of the campaign. The Lib Dems are too, but not to the same extent. In the same way as the Tories dropped the ball in terms of overall visibility at the start of the campaign proper, they have also fallen victim to an increase in the overall volume of bad blog coverage.
Party by party
Lib Dems – they don’t appear to have a particularly strong presence within the blogosphere. This could be a weakness in their strategy, as they will need to rely on the mainstream media to get their message across. This could hurt them. Being the smaller party the mainstream media may overlook their policies more often and focus purely on Labour and the Conservatives. So the internet with its viral nature could have given them a level playing field. It also means voters may struggle to find search results when trying to find out policy information.
Labour – they held the cards with regard knowing when the election was going to be announced (although it was a badly kept secret). This allowed them to time their online campaign to hit the ground running. With a combination of a lot of new posts, and also a build up of positive news – excellent for reputation management – they have matched the Conservatives positive to negative sentiment balance, and are well on the way to catching up with their share of voice. Essentially they have got off to a good to start but will need to continue this curve if they are to catch the Tories.
Conservatives – they have a large and vocal online support, although they have been caught napping by the election launch. The sight of such an increase in bad press indicates that they could be the victim of some smear tactics, which is much easier for rivals to manage online, as facts do not need to be checked.
We’ll almost certainly see an increase in negative sentiment about all 3 parties – the weak Lib Dem voice will probably mean that they suffer most, while the strength of the Tory support online will probably mitigate some of the bad news.
The Conservatives have worked hard to mirror the tactics used by Obama when he won the US election in 2008, a new website, a pronounced presence of on-message tweets, and a loyal network of committed blogging have given them a great deal of initial momentum.
This is the first election that will be fought primarily online. One of the factors being that all 3 of the major parties are struggling for cash and need to ensure that the money they spend is spent in the right place, where they will see the best overall ROI. Just like business!0 Comments