How Political Parties Use Social Media to Win Votes; Liam Giles Says the Speed and Personalised Nature of Social Media Is Winning Votes as Plaid Cymru Lead the Way in Online Engagement

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), May 4, 2016 | Go to article overview

How Political Parties Use Social Media to Win Votes; Liam Giles Says the Speed and Personalised Nature of Social Media Is Winning Votes as Plaid Cymru Lead the Way in Online Engagement


POLITICIANS have unprecedented access to our lives, at home, in the workplace and on our travels. We really have come a long way since the age of party political broadcasts and door to door canvassing being the main routes to winning hearts, minds and the all important votes.

The digital campaigning of the world's most famous politician, Barack Obama, is now legendary. He harnessed the power of Twitter for his 2008 campaign and then signifi-cantly out-spent the competition in 2012 with a $47m campaign.

In fact, he recruited digital experts early on his campaign, recognising that social media provided a unique opportunity to reach voters and remind them to vote right up to the polling date - much quicker than sending a letter or placing a call.

TAILORED MESSAGES Of course, the main advertising platforms of Google, Facebook, Twitter and Facebook provide valuable data on user behavior and preferences. Messaging can be tailored and pushed across every device, both at work and at home.

Politicians no longer need to pound the streets knocking the doors of their potential voters. As we all work longer hours and spend less time in the home, those behind the campaigns of each political party can easily send us personalised messaging at the touch of a button, straight into our hands via our mobiles.

What's more, online channels could also prove much more cost effective than traditional outlets such as TV and billboard advertising, and enable political parties to gain much faster access to polling data while testing different tones of voice for the disengaged or undecided.

However, social media is a twoway street. Managing dialogue requires strategy and effort. It's timeintensive but can reap huge rewards - particularly in the run-up to an election.

HOW ARE THEY DOING? So just how are the main parties in Wales using social media to win votes? Klout is one of many tools that attributes you a score of 'influence' based on how your audience reacts to the content you post. Klout suggests that Plaid Cymru is clearly leading the way, but whether the scores are reflected on polling day remains to be seen.

Plaid Cymru Facebook - 21,956 likes Twitter - 22,100 followers Klout - 70 As you would expect there is regular use of the Welsh language and the tone of voice displays the consistent theme of a forward thinking Wales. Good use of imagery depicts the variety of ages and careers of their constituents. Content would also suggest a real focus on the female vote.

Welsh Labour Facebook - 5,590 likes Twitter - 8,840 followers Klout - 63 Welsh Labour shows good use of visual content and is posting regularly from the campaign trail, with a recent focus on geographical coverage rather than manifesto subjects on its Twitter channel. …

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