Since experiencing the huge potential of social media to drive social change upon launching a legal and media campaign in 2014 which gathered 126,500 supporters, I have been fascinated by examples of the way others undertake campaigning and social media activity more generally.
In this blog, I will touch on a few examples of the campaigning activities of the two major parties on social media. This is in no way representative of my own political persuasions – my aim is to provide a balanced view of what works and what should be avoided.
Sticky Slogans and Calls to Action
Political parties tend to ‘broadcast’, repeating a message until it hopefully sticks. That was certainly the case in the 2019 election. Not usually known for its social media savvy (remember the Corbyn/KFC debacle), the Conservative party used social media to focus on one key campaigning message “Get Brexit Done.”
This message was visible, ‘sticky’ and evidently acted as more of a call to action to voters than Labour’s less tangible ‘Hope.’ The success of this strategy is demonstrated in part through the outcomes in previous Labour heartlands such as former mining areas. Alexander Stafford, MP for Rother Valley comes from Ealing, while Don Valley’s Nick Fletcher grew up locally in Bawtry, and is the first Conservative in a seat which has been in Labour control since 1922.
Timing is Key
While Labour received £3,488,000 in donations in week two of the election, ahead of the Conservatives, the Tories received the most donations overall and used its war chest to amplify paid social media ads in the week before the election. They placed their social media focus and spend at the right points, whereas Labour spread its effort out over the election period.
Organisations would benefit from understanding the importance of campaign lifecycles, knowing that pre-launch and first and last weeks tend to be the most crucial in terms of getting stakeholders to pay attention and take action.
Know your Audience
Jake Berry has been the MP for Rossendale and Darwen since 2010 and the Minister of State for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth at the Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government since 2019. The Northern Powerhouse has been criticised from many quarters for its lack of diversity, with frequent majority or all-male panels and limited representation of people with disabilities, people from ethnic minority backgrounds and young people.
In fact, in 2017 Northern Powerhouse event organisers were compelled to apologise for the lack of female speakers after resignations from advisory boards and influential women deciding to boycott the conference, yet did not learn their lesson, which was repeated at the 2019 conference. His Tweet has been slammed by Twitter users and the national media picked up the story within 24 hours.
To the best of my knowledge, so far he has not made a public comment which leads me to another point – effective crisis management requires being swift and sincere with an apology. Failure to do so leads the public to believe you don’t care. I expand on this in my blog Why Social Impact and Reputation are not the Same Thing.
Welcoming (some!) of the new #BlueWall of northern Conservative MPs to Parliament tonight
Working together we’ll hunt like a pack to get a brilliant deal for people across the #NorthernPowerhouse!
Political parties have a figurehead whose perceived personality traits often contribute to the making of failing of a campaign. Boris Johnson MP presents himself as an affable individual which to some extent might have enabled the public to excuse his shortcomings. Jeremy Corbyn seemingly did not attempt to make himself likeable and this and his position (or lack of it) ultimately led to a result in favour of The Conservatives.
Within your organisation, consider the most appropriate person to address the media. A Board member or the CEO is not always the best person if they lack the interpersonal skills to handle media interviews. Identify one or two individuals within your organisation that would represent your organisation best as its public face.
I also see too many organisations give the task of social media to their interns or younger members of staff, giving little thought to how social media can make or break business reputations in an instant. Implement Social Media and Crisis Management policies, create a strategy and provide the right training.
If some of the points I’ve raised have scared the bayjaysus out of you, fear not! Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to discuss how I or one of my brilliant Associates can help you implement a campaign strategy that works for your organisation.
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