Monday May 11, 2015
So now that the election is over Neil Yeomans, Head of Search for McCann Connected takes a look back at the digital campaign techniques the parties used to gain as much exposure and as many votes as possible – it seems they did their market research too. This article has also appeared on Lakesar McCann's website.
Gone are the days when putting up posters around the streets and posting leaflets through letter boxes would get the right point across and encourage people to vote – though of course, it’s still a valid method. Instead voters want bigger and better campaigns, they want to be fully persuaded and they want to see what politicians can and will do to persuade them. The parties have had to keep up with the ongoing campaign trends and they’ve had to adapt their methods to ensure they reach prospective voters.
Politicians want young people to vote and as the future generation, it’s important that they have a say in how the country is run. But how do we get young people, who are glued to their phones, tablets and computers to take part in the voting system? How do politicians make the youngsters notice them? They reach them the only way they know how – the Internet.
So while Ed Miliband, David Cameron, Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg did all they could to encourage people to vote for them – we’ve made a note of how they went about it and what we’ve learned from it.
1.Video content is king
Video content is going to be bigger in 2015 than ever; it has the ability to get significant amounts of information across to an audience in as little as a minute and people love it.
If you want to sell something to someone then you need to be personable, and while written content can do that, it’s not the same as seeing someone’s face and actions on camera and hearing their tone of voice. Visual content evokes the reader’s emotions, reaching a part of the brain that written content sometimes doesn’t. The election candidates have used video content throughout their campaigns both on social media and on YouTube to reach their audience. YouTube is the second largest search engine (after Google, which owns YouTube) and can work wonders for your brand if you update your channel regularly. The same applies to your site; if you add video content regularly you could appear higher in the search rankings. Ensure that your video content is embedded into a landing page and upload it to YouTube too for even more exposure. The descriptions should also be rich in keywords and include a link to your site.
Screenshots from the Facebook pages of Nick Clegg, Ed Miliband, Nigel Farage and David Cameron
2.Social media is superior
Social media has blown up with the election. It’s full of tweets (some positive, some negative), hashtags – our favourites were #milifandom and #cameronettes, and plenty of Facebook comments (again, a mixture of positive and negative, and some a little crazy). Leaders tried to get young people to vote and with social media so prominent and powerful now, it was an ideal campaign platform.
Twitter has 302 million monthly active users – that’s a lot of people who could see your work. Add that to 500 million tweets sent per day and 1.39 billion monthly active Facebook users and
you could have yourself a huge following. But bear in mind that with so much content on the web, and so many people tweeting, sharing and liking on social media, the content that you produce must be good. It must be relevant, current, shareable and different to get noticed.
The election has shown us how effective social media can be when trying to gain exposure. IPSOS Mori reported that one third of 18-24 year olds said that social media influenced their vote.
Social media lets us know what people are thinking, what they want and what they don’t like and it lets us know instantly. Hashtags show us what’s trending and what’s gone viral and as a brand, that’s useful. Social media also builds relationships – by messaging people directly we can create long lasting relationships with our audiences.
A screenshot from Facebook’s #GE2015 live feed
A screenshot from Twitter’s #GE2015 live feed
3.Politicians love a selfie
We’re not sure where this politician fandom came from, but the leaders loved the attention (so much so that Nick Clegg has his fan selfie as his cover photo on Facebook). We can’t really learn much from this, but we love the fact that selfies are now included in something as important as an election. Maybe next time we’ll all be voting by Snapchat?
A screenshot from Nick Clegg’s Facebook page
4.Appealing to the mass audience will get you votes (and shares and likes)
To get more exposure, you have to appeal to more people. And that’s exactly what the leaders have done, with Nigel Farage trying to be a people person by carrying a pint everywhere he goes, to David Cameron feeding a lamb on his own Facebook page; engaging with different types of people gains votes. The same idea applies to digital marketing – you have to provide your audience with something valuable to get them to trust and follow you.
Ed Miliband took this on board to gain exposure to as many personalities and age groups as possible. He took part in an interview with Russell Brand, had celebrity voters such as Steve Coogan create a video to explain why people should vote for Labour, but more surprisingly, he took part in an interview with a YouTube vlogger. Louise Pentland, also known as Sprinkle of Glitter has 217,500 subscribers and is a fashion, lifestyle and beauty vlogger. Although the interview was created to encourage young people to vote, and not necessarily to vote Labour, it was a clever move from Ed Miliband as the video received over 239, 775 views and could have gained him a new audience.
So, digital marketing has played a huge part in this year’s election and it will be interesting to see how the parties build on this as they get down to the business of either running the country or opposing those who are running the country depending on the colour of their rosette.