How to do online campaigning

You’ve probably – being worldly-wise marketing types – already come across our new wheeze ripping its way across the net.If not it won’t be long until you do.

There’s a new party on the loose and it’s after your vote.Well I say new… but the Labservatives have been around now for 65 years. And as the new poster says, “We’ve had 65 years to get it right, so what’s another five?”

Welcome to our new guerrilla campaign, put together by marketing agency Iris and launched on Tuesday. It plays on voter dissatisfaction with the same old politics offered by Labour and the Conservatives, which has culminated in the most corrupt Parliament in history.

There are billboard posters, but most of this campaign is online and designed to go viral. It includes a fantastically well-produced, animated video and a comprehensive, interactive website. You can even buy merchandise, including 3D glasses (one pane red, one pane blue).

The Tories and Labour try to do online campaigning, but like so much else about their campaigns this election cycle, the results have ranged from disappointing to pitiful.Who can forget the Tories’ CashGordon website, hacked within minutes and taken down within hours? The best Labour can come up with is a plea for people to help design them a poster. To give them some credit, at least they’re not trying to hide the fact they’re broke.

But Labservatives has really captured the imagination. The Spectator described it as “quite effective”, the Telegraph said that the Gorvid Camerown character “could become quite a star” and the New Statesman described it as a “welcome addition to the election campaign”. The Times said: “The Lib Dems have finally done it… caused a stir on Twitter.”

Ah yes, Twitter. Within hours huge numbers of tweeters were talking about the campaign… and that talk was almost entirely positive. Sample comments:

“I have to say I found #labservatives very refreshing. Mostly because the LibDems concentrated on the message not the tech”;“took me a while when i first saw @gorvidcamerown and #labservatives to realise it was the lib dems; thought it too funny for politicians”;“I know who I’m not voting for at the next election – the #labservatives! nice job lib dems on a great viral.”

It has also hit the mark on Facebook, with hundreds becoming a fan of the group ‘I’m Sick of Voting Labservative’ on the day it launched.So clearly a little of bit of humour, a lot of originality, and a great message is what you need to tap into a disenfranchised and cynical electorate.

A lesson perhaps Labour and the Conservatives may like to learn. But then, they’ve had 65 years to do so… maybe it’s just too late for them?

Tom Smithard is the Liberal Democrats’ Parliamentary Campaigns & Intelligence Analyst