Wednesday, 19 October 2011

PM Just checked in to 10 Downing St…

The Right Honourable gentleman to my right has just checked in to parliament, tweeted his #pmq and liked ‘Ed Miliband looks like Babs from Chicken run’ on Facebook (yes that page does exist; most likely administered by Dave Miliband).

All jokes aside though, politicians’ obsession with social media seems to be unprecedented in 2011 and why shouldn’t it be? 

Modern politics is a matter of branding. Political parties function as both consumer and b2b brands - the same rules of engagement apply. This is why David Cameron recently set up a ‘Linked In’ profile (Although I’m sure he’s not looking for a new challenge).

In fact all three main political parties have socialised their websites and many MPs are encouraging Facebook campaigns and real-time twitter debates. In the age of the disparate voter it all seems like a smart move to me.

No doubt politicians have seen the rewards that brands have reaped from providing consumer touch points on the social web. Social media brings you closer to your target market; the more you engage with them, the more viral you become, meaning more interest and advocacy – the latter of which being the most important factor for any political campaign.

It’s across the pond where perhaps the use of social media in politics has paved the way for others to follow. I’m sure many in Whitehall have looked at Barack Obama’s digital successes and salivated over the results – although the jury is still out on that one for 2012. 

Whilst the Lib Dems are developing a similar social database (a Voter Activation Network) to that which the Democrats used in 2008, if you're expecting Cameron to be heading up something similar for the tories I wouldn't hold your breath, this venture is no doubt all mouth and no trousers.

Quite simply though, no party can expect to win elections without knowing who their voters are and engaging with them – social media only maximises this opportunity. With social data coming in to play I’d expect a whole new type of political campaigning come the next election.

Yet, whilst David is busy checking into the United Nations HQ in New York on Foursquare, I can’t help but wonder if there is an olive branch being sent out to the ‘disengaged youth’ that make up so much of ‘Broken Britain?’ Yeah, whatever. 


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