With 27 days to go before polls open, social media has become a battle ground for election campaigns and political coverage in the UK. While there’s still a way to go before networking platforms dictate election outcomes, this year has certainly proved social media’s reach, influence and power to share information and sway votes.
According to a Twitter study of 3,000 respondents aged between 18-34, 37% of users are visiting the microblogging platform to actively look for information about politics or the UK general election. Moreover, one in three respondents (34%) have changed their vote from one party to another based on something they have seen on Twitter.
On Facebook, meanwhile, there were over 21 million interactions (posts, comments and ‘likes’) across the UK around the general election since the start of this year.
The influence and reach social media has so far demonstrated has not gone unnoticed by news organisations who have stepped up their digital presence and adopted new reporting tactics online to allow readers to interact real-time with election coverage. According to The Guardian, news organisations are experimenting with new formats for the general election because ‘people are switched off by the predictable theatre of the campaign and the way it’s covered…’
It is perhaps for this reason that Tony Grew, former parliamentary editor of PoliticsHome.com and reporter for the Sunday Times, is launching Parly, a crowdfunded project that is starting out as a website with the aim of transitioning into an app that will bring readers the latest news from inside Westminster. ‘I want it to be an app because the way we consume information has changed so much,’ Grew told Journalism.co.uk.
The shift in the way news is reported and consumed this election will also resonate with businesses looking to get involved in the political debate – whether it’s a light-hearted campaign linked to the election or a serious viewpoint representative of the business and industry on the whole, PRs behind the brands will also need to adopt a fresh approach that will make their message stand out on social media.
Regardless of election outcome, social media will carry much greater weight in forming and influencing public opinion, setting the tone for a new era in political journalism and public debate.
For more insights and tips on how media and marketers are getting involved in election coverage, check out Cision’s latest white paper: The Politics of PR
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Photo Courtesy of Adam Fagen on Flickr