Apologies for the lack of sentence construction in that title, but I really can’t think of another way to put it. I know it’s my job to think about political social media, and most people don’t care as much as I do. But seriously guys, politics really is doing the Internet right!
Obviously there have been some awesome uses of online tools and platforms for largescale political gain in the past, for good or for bad – I’ll namecheck Obama, Kony and the Occupy movement as a sample – the list goes on and on.
However, in terms of getting day-to-day messaging across, we’ve mostly* seen Twitter and other available online tools used as a new distribution service for otherwise unaltered PR materials – and nothing more. This completely ignores the potential for a wider reach than the usual political crowd that the Internet allows.
This year, something seems to have changed. We’ve seen political organisers, informers and campaigners step it up a notch with their digital strategy in a slightly different way in the past few months:
- The Labour Party released an amazing version of Facebook’s Look Back video detailing Cameron and the Conservatives’ failures in office.
- The actual Foreign Office used a BuzzFeed list to answer some questions about Ukraine.
- Obama did a genuinely hilarious interview with Zach Galifianakis to make the youth of America sign up for cheap healthcare in time
It’s like someone finally sent a fax to lots of political campaigning types and told them “stop doing email lists -there’s a cool new way to reach literally all of the young people.”
I once had a brief conversation with Ed Miliband about how to use social media to get him elected. It was relatively not-serious and instead of giving too much away I told him, with a cheeky grin, that he had to persuade me to vote for him first. But if I had given him some serious advice, BuzzFeed lists and genuinely funny (but informative, obvs) ‘viral’ videos would have been my professional recommendation.
It’s early days, but content that is actually created with sharablity in mind is a step in the right direction. If this is where the thoughts about getting young people more engaged in politics are leading, I’m excited for next year’s elections.
*My personal favourite notable exception is this conversation between the Labour and Lib-Dem press offices over Twitter.