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Vote For Us - Social Media and the General Election

The following blog was written during the 2015 General Election Campaign. We've left the article as the points it makes are still relevant when it comes to using social media by businesses.

The growth in use of social media since the last General Election in 2010 has been so great that tomorrow’s election has been widely billed as the first Social Media election.  There are many people who would dispute this but social media has certainly played a part in the election campaign so far and this is what I will be taking away from it.

Hashtags are playing a big part in this election with 500 000 tweets using #GE2015 in just the last week*.  By tweeting and searching the hashtag we’ve been able to create and join a huge conversation like never before. Each of the leader debates came with their own hashtags allowing people to tune in and comment on what was being said in real time.

The various parties have also created their own hashtags. The 2 main parties have stuck to what they know and imaginatively used #VoteConservative and #VoteLabour. The idea of course is to allow their supporters to show their allegiance by using these hashtags, of course it doesn’t always work like that.

There are dangers with using social media and no party wants a white van and England flag moment. However some engagement can only be a good thing.

One of the big disappointments for me about the use of social media in this election is the lack of engagement by the main parties on their Twitter and Facebook accounts.  They are using social media solely to broadcast their messages and don’t reply to any comments they receive. With the sole exception of the Green Party on Facebook who at least have tried.  Obviously there are dangers in responding but retweeting and replying to positive support even in an anodyne way would be a great way to engage with ordinary voters.

The whole lack of engagement issue is the thing I find most frustrating about social media and twitter in general. One of the most effective ways that social media can benefit your business is by using it to talk with people.

Tomorrow night when the polls close how many of us will be watching with an eye on Twitter to see what is being said by the main parties and by ordinary people. It should add something to the whole experience.

Here in Henley we have local and district elections too. For the first time the results of those elections will be easy to find as social media will be used to announce them.

*What Makes a Social Media Election -BBC Trending

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