An unprecedented amount of social activity took place around the election, causing many to hail it as the “first social election”. Three million people clicked the “I’m a voter” button on Facebook, while 160,000 tweeted using the #IVoted hashtag. In total, over two million election related tweets were sent in the lead-up to the vote, with the discussion on Twitter turning out to be a fairly good representation of the results. Statistics released by Twitter show the Conservative party received 39% of mentions (compared to 36.9% of votes), Labour 36% (compared to 30.4% of votes), Liberal Democrats 8% (compared to 7.9% of votes).
Despite the high volume of social activity, very little of the conversation came directly from the parties themselves. Unlike Barack Obama, who embraced fully embraced online communities such as Reddit and Buzzfeed during his election campaign, UK politicians took a more impersonal approach, sharing standard campaign messages rather than getting involved in the conversation. As a result, many of the big moments during the election came from elsewhere…
1. Russell Brand on YouTube
The most popular election-related content on YouTube came from comedian Russell Brand, who posted an interview with Labour leader Ed Miliband to voice his support for the Labour party. It got over a 1.3 million views. To compare, the most popular videos released by the major political parties got under half that amount of views.
One of the more unexpected social media moments on election day was #Dogsatpollingstations, which was trending on Twitter all day. Following an early morning tweet by Innocent drinks, people all over the country took to Twitter to share pictures of dogs looking sad sat outside polling stations.
3. Brands getting in on the action
Several other brands also got in on the action, but ultimately none were as successful at hijacking the conversation as Innocent and their dog meme.
Pizza Hut created a range of election pizzas and a hashtag to go with them:
While Lastminute.com shared their own manifesto:
4. Facebook campaigning
Although most of the biggest social media moments didn’t come from the political parties themselves, some of the major parties used promoted Facebook posts to try and sway votes on voting day.
The Liberal Democrats encouraged undecided voters to vote for them rather than Labour in certain areas…
… while both the Conservatives and UKIP encouraged people to keeping voting into the evening.
5. Paddy Ashdown’s hat
As it turned out, the biggest social media story on the night of the election was not the impending results but Paddy Ashdown’s hat. A declaration by the former Liberal Democrat leader – that he would eat his (non-existent) hat if the exit poll turned out to be right – resulted in a raft of parody accounts and memes. After mounting pressure, he did eventually eat a hat, albeit a chocolate one.
The major political parties may have failed to fully capitalise on social media for the election – but you can make full use of the possibilities to create an eye-catching campaign for your business. If you need some professional advice getting started, you can check out upcoming dates for our Embrace the Space Masterclasses here.