All Posts in politics

December 1, 2014Published by: Charlie Sharpe

The Influence of Social Media in Modern Politics in the UK

TwitterUntil recently many have underestimated the power of social media in politics. However two recent events have demonstrated the importance of it.

Many political campaigners may take the traditional view that social media cannot influence the reputations and success of politicians, however more and more politicians are beginning to establish themselves on social media platforms. On average 85% of Members of Parliament (based on research of the 73 London constituencies) now have accounts YouTube, Facebook or Twitter that are managed by themselves or their offices.

Furthermore, in the last few weeks, two events have really highlighted the importance of social media in modern politics; the sacking of the Labour MP Emily Thornberry from her position of shadow Attorney General over a tweet from the labour campaign in Rochester, and the rise of the #CameronMustGoTwitter campaign.

While social media can be used as an effective campaigning tool, a lack of experience and understanding can be fatal in politics. Ed Miliband’s decision to sack Emily Thornberry over the Rochester tweet has attracted more attention from the wider media than the tweet itself, drawing significant negative press around the Labour party as a whole. This could prove to have a significant impact for the Labour party campaign in the fast approaching 2015 elections. Had Miliband demonstrated a better understanding of the power of social media could reputational damage have been avoided?

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 16.23.16The second example, #CameronMustGo, was initially dismissed by fellow MP’s who predicted it would have little influence and would quickly disappear. However, after five days the hashtag had been mentioned 420,178 times and had an astonishing potential reach of 573,844,914 people. While some of these tweets may have been light hearted in nature, the sheer volume of such a negative hashtag are clearly not a welcome outcome for a party gearing up to an election.

These two recent examples demonstrate the potential risk of social media in modern day politics, however it’s important to note that social can be used as a successful campaigning tool if used and approached appropriately. Labour MP for Streatham, Chuka Umunna, has amassed a sizable online community - his Twitter page has 87,112 followers and his Facebook page has 13,065 likes.

One of the key reasons for Umunna’s social media success (aside from avoiding controversy!) are the regularity of his posts and the informal and casual way he and his office approach these updates. Chuka uses YouTube to post a variety of videos which not only address political issues but also demonstrate an interest in his voters through topical events such as the Ice Bucket Challenge and Notting Hill Carnival. Many people involved in politics on social media may dismiss this approach as not focusing on the most important elements of the job, however it has clearly won him a supportive online community.

Overall, while many politicians have struggled with the risks associated with social media, it is clear that there are opportunities for politicians to engage with a disillusioned electorate in a brand new way. As it becomes clearer that the future electorate is online it is becoming far more important for the politicians to be able to communicate with them.

June 10, 2014Published by: Anton Perreau

President Obama live Tumblr Q&A

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 21.01.21

There are firsts for everything in social media and today President Obama performed the first ever Presidential Q&A on Tumblr - the microblogging platform. The subject matter all the more relevant for Tumblr's core audience of teens and college students: education and college cost, value and affordability.

The Q&A, held on The Official White House Tumblr page was moderated by Tumblr’s founder/CEO David Karp and filmed live from The White House in Washington D.C. Users of tumblr were invited to submit their questions through a dedicated URL - then selected ones were asked to the president. Throughout the Q&A, the hashtag #ObamaIRL recieved around 1,500 tweets with a reach of around 42.4 million.

Questions were listed on screen, complete with the question askers tumblr address and profile photo. Some of the questions focused on the future tech entrepreneurs of tomorrow, asking how President Obama would inspire future tech moguls to fulfil their own dreams and build something like Tumblr or Facebook.

Different demographics have always flocked to varied social networks - here on a topic close to the hearts of teens and college students alike, The White House is proving that behind it's politics, legislation and formalities, it is still dedicated to open forum even on the most relevant of platforms. As said by President Obama in the live Q&A,

"We're constantly looking for new ways to reach audiences in ways that are relevant to them."

The White House has continued to push forward with ensuring they cover off the social web with a strong presence on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn, Foursquare and Vimeo.

Visit The Official White House Tumblr to read more about this.

September 30, 2013Published by: Anton Perreau

The White House Embraces Social Media Sharing

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 13.08.36

The social media team at The White House clearly have the right idea. Go on twitter and you can follow President Obama, along with about 37 million other people - he's been on there for about six and a half years. About a year ago POTUS had his own Reddit 'Ask Me Anything' (aka. AMA). For a brief amount of time Obama was on Foursquare - though we're not sure how that was helpful when people can track him anyway. Despite this you can still check in to The White House on Foursquare if you're lucky enough to be invited.

Perhaps The White House has realised that social media is actually a viable way to share your message with the masses, get yourself (re)elected. To embrace social media and the content we share through it, The White House has launched 'White House Shareables' - a resource where users can find infographics, videos, presentations and general information or propaganda pertaining to The White House. All of this can be filtered and searched, then shared throughout social media channels within seconds. As WebProNews explains,

"For an administration that’s been criticized for some failures to accurately and convincingly explain the President’s policies to the American people (read: The Affordable Care Act), this is one minor move to enlist the public to help spread the word."

Regardless of how well the administration has been performing, this move in a direction to embrace more social media in politics is a sign of the times that social media is an essential part of everything - whether you're a small business or one of the world's largest government administrations. As The White House put it: 'Check it out, and get sharing.'