Why social media was the real winner of the General Election

‘For the Many, Not the Few.’ ‘Strong and Stable Leadership.’ They’ve become repetitive slogans over the past few weeks as we counted down the days until we went to the polls. No-matter how many times the experts tried to second-guess the final results, the majority of the population was left surprised by the outcome of what many were predicting to be a Tory landslide.

Following a turbulent year of politics where an ex-reality star got sworn into The White House and Britain voted to quit the European Union, many are pointing the finger at social media for turning politics on its head.

This year, Labour targeted the younger generations with a well planned out campaign that harnessed Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and strategically placed ads in the feeds of Millennials who wouldn’t usually vote. They pinpointed the group of people that they thought would be most effective in tipping the power balance and asked them directly, via the convenience of their phone or tablet to vote for them. This simple tactic clearly worked in the party’s favour.

The opportunities are endless

Facebook advertising gives people or organisations the chance to spread key messages to the masses and Labour harnessed the opportunity by sending out ads to not only the people in the constituencies it serves, but also to people in the areas that it wanted to gain from the Tories. The Conservatives on the other hand failed to target their ‘safe seats,’ leading to the near defeat of Home Secretary Amber Rudd in her home constituency of Hastings and Rye.

For years now politicians have failed to grasp hold of the opportunities that could arise if only they used social media properly. The speed in which technology is developing requires big changes in how we do business and politics is no exception. Door tapping is all very well when your typical voter is aged over 65 and lives in the suburbs, but what use is it when you have a manifesto that aims to please the younger generation but don’t take advantage of digital platforms? How do you pull off a successful campaign when you need to target millions of people in the space of a few weeks if not via social media?

Political swingers

Looking back at the past few weeks, the last year even, how could we have been so surprised at the outcome of so many elections.  Gone are the days of picking a political party when you’re 18 and sticking with them through thick and thin for the rest of your life. These days, voters are swayed by what they read on Facebook, what political (or propaganda) videos they view on YouTube, leading to many people being termed ‘Political Swingers,’ AKA, people who can’t make a final decision. When the population is becoming more open minded to which political party to vote for, the opportunities truly are endless. The time has finally come for politicians to embrace the world of digital media with open arms.