The contrast couldn’t be clearer. Theresa May, having thrown away her significant majority in the election she said she wouldn’t call, finds herself in a situation where even her ‘win’ is seen as a defeat. Jeremy Corbyn, lamented by press and peers alike when he took the Labour hotseat, celebrated a ‘victory’ despite securing less votes than the opposition. The question is, how? How did the conservatives throw away their comfortable lead? How did a Labour party in disarray produce such an emphatic campaign? While social media is by no means the only reason for the result, the DigitalDinos team believe it played a significant part. Here’s why…
Formed of only seven employees, ‘Momentum’, a tech savvy group of Corbyn supporters- aided by volunteers- found their website reached over 70,000 people. According to The Times, targeting the undecided, it focused on digital tools, namely social media platforms, to boost awareness of Mr Corbyn’s campaign and shift the undecided to the Labour party. In the last week of campaigning, around 12.7 million people (almost a quarter of UK Facebook users) saw content posted by Momentum, criticising Tory cuts while boosting the Labour leader’s profile in posts including videos, GIFs and images. With the help of Momentum, Labour were able to direct more the 2.4 times as much traffic to their website than the conservatives. Furthermore, a Momentum built website called My Nearest Marginal allowed Labour voters to discover campaign events happening near them by typing in their postcode, allowing them to organise details such as car shares and enabling them to call the local organiser.
The Sea Of Red
Aided by Momentum, Labour’s tactic of targeting the youth vote with promises to abolish tuition fees and provide “hope” for the future clearly paid off, with “nearly two thirds of younger voters backing the Labour party” according to an NME led exit poll. Sam Jeffers, co founder of Facebook ad monitoring project ‘Who Targets Me?’ claimed that many news feeds were a “sea of red, simply because of messages shared by friends”.
But while they were clearly getting it right, how did the Tories get it so wrong? Their strategy relied upon paid adverts on channels such as Facebook and YouTube. Their campaign was repetitive and tedious, with the message of ‘strong and stable’ leadership being drowned out by the energetic, vibrant appeal of the Labour social media campaign. The reality that their online campaign failed must have dawned on them when they discovered that their Facebook and YouTube advert received 9 million views – the most in history for a campaign ad – yet still couldn’t shift the focus from the positivity Labours online presence.
Spend Less, Gain More?
The savvy online campaign that boosted Labour’s votes – especially with the youth – must have cost them a bomb to swing so many voters, right? Wrong. Incredibly, Momentum spent only £2000 on advertising, aided by a fundraising page that garnered them around £115,000. So how were they heard by so many people? “Labour got more for less from their Facebook investment” Daniel Gilbert of Brain Labs Digital told The Times, “This is likely because their content was more appealing to their chosen target audience. The Conservatives have failed to understand the basics of Facebook advertising” he stated. Gilbert is referring to Facebook’s algorithm, rewarding advertisers who are relevant by measuring engagement with posts. In other words, more engagement, more views.
The Twitter Battle
Theresa May’s mantra – strong and stable – appeared to be the motto for her Twitter account as well, with a basic flow of Tweets churning out the parties policies. As the Election loomed closer, her flow of Tweets increased, with various photos of her campaigning trips to schools, radio shows, factories and television studios.
Jeremy Corbyn took a rather different approach to opposition leader Theresa May. Frequently challenging her on Twitter, Corbyn will use her ‘@’ handle when addressing her, linking to her account. On the contrary, May simply states Corbyn’s name when talking about him in 140 characters or less. This bullish approach could be the reason why Corbyn has almost a million more followers than May, again pressing home the message that Labour performed better online.
An energetic, vibrant campaign stole the battle of the web for the Labour Party while the Tories were left in their wake. Maybe next time, Theresa May should call the DigitalDinos team to help run her campaign and explain how Facebook’s algorithm works.
(Featured image courtesy of The Telegraph)