Tamar, the natural search and social media conversion agency, has announced the results of its fourth Political Search Index, which shows that the major UK parties have missed a unique opportunity to win support through online engagement.
The research amplifies the results of Tamar’s previous studies into UK online political strategies highlighting that the parties have all failed in differing degrees to learn from the success of the Obama presidential campaign, which created a new political constituency in the US, as well as raising half a billion dollars online.
A strong point of view from the Tamar research is that David Cameron could have achieved his goal of an overall majority had he and the party engaged more comprehensively online with a personal approach mirroring the Obama campaign.
Tamar’s ongoing Political Search Index (PSI) series, going back to last October, has consistently pointed out the shortcomings of the major parties’ online engagement campaigns. In the age of personalised information and growing networks of influencers, the decision by two of the leaders
ot to use Twitter highlights the lack of understanding about how people in the UK are finding information, sharing views and making decisions. Both Gordon Brown and David Cameron decided against engaging personally via Twitter and their engagement through the social media platform was largely confined to impersonal party accounts.
Social media engagement showed other signs of tactical misalignment, as the parties moved late to establish presences on YouTube and Facebook. The lack of commitment to personal engagement could be seen on these accounts, which attracted significant attention but were not translated into personalised campaigns.
All the leaders, David Cameron and Gordon Brown in particular, could have benefited from launching personal sites on social networks, using an individual voice and clear, personalised messaging, to achieve similar levels of support that President Obama attracted in his campaign. Nick Clegg did succeed in establishing a personal voice through his own Twitter account, connecting with people through more than 10 informative “tweets” every day in the run-up to the polls.
Given that the @DowningStreet Twitter account had attracted a strong number of followers, the lack of engagement compared with Nick Clegg’s efforts is a serious oversight.
The LibDems, who galvanised their online campaign in the two months before polling day, succeeded in winning second spot in the Twitter league behind the Conservatives, in terms of the number of followers and was the most popular party on Facebook.
The LibDems were also less “arms-length” in their adoption of continual two-way engagement and more responsive to voters’ concerns voiced online. The reacted more quickly to reflect action and sentiment by people across social networks and unofficial campaign sites
Neil Jackson, Search Strategy Director at Tamar comments: “We’ve been monitoring the political parties’ online campaigns since October and this latest research shows clearly which of the major parties has begun to grasp the huge potential for converting people but even this was too little, too late. It seems that the two other main parties have up to now held social media engagement at a distance.
“Like the commercial sector, all parties will need to grasp the huge opportunities offered by this engagement, knowing that they have lost control of their ‘brand’ but gained a direct route to open dialogue with the people they represent.”
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