Posts Tagged: Facebook

Reaching undecided voters online

There can be little doubt that the role of the internet in the 2010 election will be significantly different to what we saw in 2005. The 3 parties haven’t all just changed their leaders – their overall approach to a medium that played (at best) a bit-part at the last General Election has also changed completely.

Through blogs and Twitter, we’ve seen a revolution in the way political parties communicate internally – with sites like ConservativeHome becoming must-reads for party members messaging each other about the political events of the day.

But the big question at this election is how best to use the internet to reach out beyond the people who will already vote for you to the huge number of undecided voters. We know they’re unlikely to be reading the political blogs or following even their local MP on Twitter – so how do you reach them?

Well, we know they’re definitely searching on Google, connecting with friends on Facebook and quite often starting any web browsing session on a portal like MSN or Yahoo to find out what’s going in the world today.

That’s why search plays such a big part in our online strategy. For example, when we relaunched Conservatives.com in 2008, we ensured that the site was properly optimised for search so users could find key policy information easily using Google. And that work paid off, as proven by recent research by the natural search conversion agency Tamar.

And Google Adwords, which allow us to strategically place messages according to users’ search terms, are important too. For example, on Wednesday anyone searching on Budget-related terms from “Alistair Darling” through to “car scrappage scheme” would be presented with an advert for George Osborne’s video response on YouTube.

Research by Diffusion found that our strategy on Facebook has also paid off, with innovations like our “donate your status” campaign during last year’s European elections helping to send our key messages from our supporters on to thousands of undecided voters. PR Week concluded that the Conservative Party “dominates” Facebook, with more supporters on the platform than the other two parties combined.

We’ve also recognised that it’s important to engage with people on the sites they already visit rather than expecting them to come to us. MSN (which reaches an astonishing 50% of the UK online audience) recently played host to an interactive webcast with David Cameron, and we have worked with Mumsnet, LinkedIn, the Army Rumour Service, Money Saving Expert and SAGA in the past few months alone.

Mark Hanson (writing on this very blog) is right to say that it’s important to keep your own supporters informed, and to give them the tools they need to fight a successful election campaign, both offline and online. That’s why we launched MyConservatives.com, which allows our supporters to fundraise and campaign for the candidates they support and the issues they care about.

It’s also why we’ve invested so much in e-mail, which remains by far the best way to get in touch with large groups of supporters. ReturnPath research found we scored a “landslide” victory over the other parties when it comes to e-mail, with Labour going a full 58 days without sending a message to their subscribers.

So, with the election campaign proper just around the corner, it’s going to be an exciting few weeks and I’m looking forward to keeping you up to date on this blog.

Craig Elder (@craigelder)

Online Communities Editor, The Conservative Party

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Tories go on the attack

The shock news this week is that Euro RSCG has been ‘joined’ by M&C Saatchi on the Conservative Party’s ad roster.

I say ‘shock’ but given that Euro’s most memorable work was the infamous airbrushed Cameron ad which spawned a 1000 spoofs, maybe the shock is that this didn’t happen sooner.

Will M&C be able to summon up the ghosts of creativity past and produce another ‘Labour’s not working’? Yesterday the Evening Standard said M&C Saatchi’s brief was to ‘tear lumps out of Gordon Brown’. Can’t wait to see the work.

Online has been an unhappy place for the opposition party of late – this week they were forced to pull a website just days after its launch. For those of you who didn’t follow this saga, the Tories launched the site at the start of the week laying into the union Unite and its political director and former Brown aide Charlie Whelan, displaying tweets using the hashtag #cashgordon.

The trouble started when some technical scamps figured out it was unmoderated and using wizardry I don’t quite understand managed to post up tweets in 48 point saying some extremely rude things about Cameron as well as spoof images. Also the page was accepting code that allowed it to be redirected. A new and improved version has gone back up but not before a whole heap of mocking by Labour bloggers.

And this in the month that Wired magazine hit the shelves praising the Conservatives’ digital marketing team. Oh dear.

P.S – Marmite is getting in on the election fever and next week will roll out an advertising and Facebook campaign aimed at mobilising lovers and haters of the brown salty spread. Brandrepublic will reveal the full story on Monday.

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It’s a boy. We’re getting divorced. She’s dead.

What exactly is/isn’t acceptable fodder for announcing via social media? A pregnancy – complete with scans on Facebook? A compressed critique of landlord failings via Twitter? A video diary of your kidney stone op via YouTube?

Your viewpoint, like most questions of broadcasting ‘good taste’, will probably be influenced by your age and moral standing. However, the truth is that the question of acceptable ‘netiquette’ changes by the day. We’re all getting used to the brash immediacy that new technology brings. It’ll also differ according to the social media you use and how you use it. For instance, do you really count a loose amalgam of Facebook buddies as ‘friends’ or are they just acquaintances? Like real life, it’s more to do with what’s acceptable within your particular group than the medium itself. What if that group is made up of your mum, your manager and your childhood sweetheart though? Even worse, what’s the netiquette for announcing news second-hand? Could you be sued for disseminating the ‘secret’ forthcoming divorce of a close friend? It’s a minefield and one that the law will find hard to keep pace with.

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Friends Reunited to be sold at £160m loss?

Poor old ITV. It dived into the world of social media just as the tide was turning. Now, according to the Mail on Sunday, it could be selling Friends Reunited for a paltry £15 million; that’s £160million less than it paid for it 4 years ago! FR was rather a one trick pony though, wasn’t it? Once you tracked down Biffer Bradock, shared reminiscences about Spotted Dick and dinner ladies it all kind of fizzled out; or, of course you had an affair with an old girlfriend/boyfriend! The realclincher was the rise of MySpace, Facebook and Bebo though – social media based very much in the here and now. But is this a salutary warning? How should we price these sites? Especially given that their life span may be as little as 5 years? How long before Facebook goes the same way? I’m already trying out Gather.com – the site that professes to not be about ‘…who you know or people from your past; it’s about connecting with new people who share your interests and experiences today’.

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Michael Jackson rises again

Last night global web traffic rose a third above normal – peaking during the moving memorial service to Michael Jackson. However, it was nowhere near the unprecedented surge following the announcement of his passing. It was then that people clamoured to be the first to pass on the shocking news and fans descended into mass hysteria. It’s all been relatively restrained though – especially in an age when we get in a lather over any old Boyle, Goody or Potts. His ‘cult of personality’ seems no more extreme than any other. What’s more interesting is the fact that last night was further evidence of a burgeoning new era for the Internet. Thanks to the ubiquitous I-phone, Facebook, Twitter et al, consumers are becoming directors and disseminating information with much more immediacy than the TV networks. Most importantly, they’re putting their own personal spin on things.Something which mass media can never do. What about the question of ‘over coverage’ though? Yes Jackson did push much more important stories out of the limelight. But, like or loathe him, this was one the major cultural figures of our era – so perhaps, for once, all the fuss was justified.

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Would you give up email for £500m?

For all his company’s progressive attitude to online, the seasoned publisher-turned-poet Felix Dennis remains a resolute technophobe. In an interview earlier this month, he told me he’d never had an email address, and for the sake of staff morale perhaps this is just as well.

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Video, your route into social networks

When we launched our Online Video
Guide
last week, I had hoped that one of the key messages to have twigged in
people’s minds was that video content is the one form of content that transcends
all internet barriers. It should be on marketers’ lists as a Top 3 method of
delivering a standardised brand message to audiences in social networks, on
email, on blogs, on standard web pages, dedicated video sites, even in search
results – basically anywhere on the internet.

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Election 2010: The Digital Media Battle

We should all welcome Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s return to YouTube this week. He was criticised by Cabinet colleagues (aka our ‘Communities’ Minister, Hazel Blears) and widely ridiculed by the media for his ‘MP expenses’ video late last month. But Brown knows only too well that we now live in a world of 24/7 digital media and he needs to use these tools to get his message across directly to the British people (he’s doing something right – apparently the 10 Downing Street twitter site is the UK’s most favourite). Of course, Parliament is the hub of our democracy and policy statements should be made first in the ‘chamber’ (but few people watch or listen to proceedings). Door-to-door campaigning is very personal but it is also time-consuming and effective on a one-to-one basis. So, as the political fighting (and in-fighting) intensifies in the run up to the European and local elections next month, another ‘war’ is beginning to emerge: the politics of digital media.

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Facebook Feeding Frenzy

Facebook 2.0? Not quite, but today’s the day that it looks set to open up access to the ‘feed’. What we’re talking about is the rich real time data that developers would give their eye-teeth to get their hands on; the stuff we’re all sharing with our fellow Facebook users. It’s important because it ups the ante in the ongoing battle with Twitter. After all, search the net, and you’ll already find a plethora of news aggregation sites based on the most popular things people are Tweetering on about. Knowing what people are sharing is one thing, but imagine filtering it by geographic or company location too. The big question is precisely how much of the feed will be opened up and how it will sit with thorny privacy issues. What’s to be applauded though is the fact that they’re acting quickly to assimilate the best of competitor social media. People’s attention spans wane quickly online, so anything that sustains interest or reinvigorates has got to be welcomed.

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Silly Old Twit-ter

Did you read Chris Barraclough’s recent blog? He handed over the temporary reigns to Casey Bird – a young student of advertising. Casey’s big gripe was that Facebook is being taken over by seriously uncool oldies… like her dad. Well, guess what, it’s happening to Twitter too. According to ComScore and Reuters reporter Alexei Oreskovic, Twitter’s massive traffic explosion is mainly down to 25-54 year olds or, more specifically, it’s 45-54 year olds who are 36% more likely to visit and 25-34 year olds who are 30% more likely. In fact, 18-24 year olds (the traditional social media early adopters) are actually 12 percent less likely than average to visit Twitter.

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