Election 2017 – Who were the digital winners?

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One week on from the election results, don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you how you voted but thought it was worth taking a look back at the tactics used by both parties in terms of their marketing strategies, and in particular who they were marketing to, and how.

Labour famously won many more seats than was anticipated and this was largely due to the fact that they were trying hard to target younger people, and it seems, they were very successful in doing so.

They did this by utilising the digital platforms that the demographic they’re targeting are using, for example, WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook.

Their WhatsApp technique was particularly effective as they utilised what’s known as a WhatsApp cascade – they had the WhatsApp contact details of lots of young people who has signed up for various initiatives, and just prior to, and on the day of the election, they sent a message out to all of these people, and asked them to forward this message onto all of their friends. This message contained links on why to vote, how to vote, and reassurances for people who for example had lost their polling card.

Imagine that the first message was received by just 100 people, and they in turn sent it to another 100 people each – you can see immediately how quickly this message could spread, and Labour used this technique incredibly efficiently, and in terms of their marketing budget, it would have cost virtually nothing to implement.

They also used Twitter Ads, Facebook Ads and various sponsored posts to make sure that their message was hitting the right people and in the right places.

Compare this to the Conservative Party, who arguably didn’t want the younger generation to vote, and therefore turned their attention to more traditional forms of campaigning / PR. Of course, there is still a place for this, however where they fell short, in my opinion, was that while Theresa May effectively spent the final two days of the campaign criticising and undermining Jeremy Corbyn, she was doing this through traditional mediums, and largely to people who were already likely to vote Conservative – she was preaching to the converted.

A better use of this tactic might have been to adopt Labour’s approach of useful infographics and quick soundbites, but to target this at a digital demographic of say 35 – 55 year olds, who are incredibly active on Facebook in particular, and who may have been more unsure as to where their vote was potentially going to go. This may well have had some impact in areas where there were only a few seats in it, as it appears to be a tactic that they have almost entirely ignored, in favour of ‘what they’ve always done’, and as we know (and now they know too!) you’ve really got to move with the times, as your audience are moving whether you like it or not!

It would be interesting to see, should there be another election soon, whether the Conservatives take a more digital approach in targeting a demographic that’s much more likely to vote for them, in much the same way that Labour did so successfully just a week or so ago.

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