While many pundits and analysts say the most interesting feature of this election was the ‘shy Tory’ phenomenon, or ludicrously off-point polling predictions, we feel it has been the leading role social media has played on the campaign trail.
Ed Miliband’s courting of the politically maverick and highly controversial Russell Brand via YouTube may not have won him the keys to 10 Downing Street, but it certainly got us all talking about the right (or responsibility?) to vote and attracted an enviable 19,000+ likes. However, with social media also comes the potential for mistakes made on the campaign trail to be capitalised upon by unsympathetic members of the public, with a video of David Cameron being unable to recall which football team he supports garnering almost half a million views.
Britain’s new youngest MP, Mhairi Black of the SNP, also came to the attention of the press for her past x-rated use of Twitter and as millennials increasingly run for office it will be interesting to see if the ghost of social media past comes back to haunt more prospective MPs.
The level of public engagement with social channels was also exceptionally high; Nicola Sturgeon’s breakthrough into the political elite over the election build-up was met with a tremendous 163,000 mentions of her Twitter handle – of which 71% were positive. We even witnessed the birth of a new ‘I voted’ button on Facebook. More people are taking to digital channels to engage in political debate, which can only be a good thing for democracy, but also gives political strategists food for thought on how they can use new platforms to their best advantage.