A widely-accepted major contributor to Obama’s 1st and 2nd term wins was his team’s dominance of the social space – which served as a lesson for our own parties. They’ve had years to gear themselves up: so how are they doing?
The initial slap-in-the-face insight is that the social rankings below differ hugely from the polls. But this is misleading for more than one reason.
First, let’s take a look at Facebook Likes over the last 2 weeks:
In the leaders race, Webcameron seems to be trouncing the competition. But there’s a catch: the Tories have been spending over £100k a month on Facebook paid ads, a big focus of which has been generating paid Likes for their leader and party (you’ve probably noticed Dave on your feed over the last few months). In comparison, Labour have been spending about one tenth on the channel, and UKIP even less.
It could be argued that a paid Like is less ‘committal’ by nature than an organic one, so that big Tory lead may be less meaningful than initial impressions suggest.
Another standout is the strong result for UKIP and also Farage himself. These results certainly outclass UKIP’s own performance in the polls, and are even more impressive when factoring in their tiny paid ad spend. Why is this? One major contributor is the Facebook user’s mindset: it’s not called ‘Showoffbook’ for no reason.
By nature, UKIP is more a lifestyle choice, compared to the Big Three parties. Rightly or wrongly, UKIPers tend to be passionate about their beliefs – and so perhaps more likely to shout about them on the big self-branding exercise that is Facebook.
This self-branding effect also goes a long way to explaining the Green’s joint 3rd spot – although the rock-bottom tally for Natalie Bennet’s personal page will surely be a worry for Green Party HQ.
Now let’s compare Facebook and Twitter, first for parties…
…and then for party leaders:
It’s interesting that the rankings differ so much between Facebook and Twitter. Again, a likely main factor is the user’s differing mindsets when ‘Liking’ on Facebook (self-promotion-centric) and ‘Following’ on Twitter (info gathering).
UKIP may be disheartened by the Twitter figures, which suggest that although many people want to portray themselves as proud UKIPers on Facebook, not so many want a live Twitter feed of party info. Does this suggest a loyal fanbase with clear voting intentions?
Lastly, a sobering Facebook chart for all career politicians out there. When comparing party and leader popularity with ‘general interest’ themes (aka normal stuff), even Dave’s huge lead in the race for Likes looks laughable:
So, erm, Phil Mitchell for P.M. then – in a coalition with Innocent Smoothies.