Online election fever

Social media has had a big impact on elections in other countries in the past couple of years, notably Iran and the US. The Obama campaign really got a handle on the online thing, winning an important advantage over the Republicans.  It will be fascinating to see how social media affects a British election, and who benefits.

First signs are that the Tories are ahead, at least on Facebook, where a one-month review up until the middle of this month found 4,688 comments and wall posts had been made on the party’s fan page, compared with only 1,229 on the Labour Party’s page and 727 on the Liberal Democrats’. The Tories have 23,800 individuals connected to its fan page, while the other two have only 7,000 connections each.

More Conservative prospective candidates are on Facebook, 69% of the total. Among existing MPs, the Liberal Democrats are most strongly represented with 55%; the Conservatives have 38% and Labour 34%.

It’s a strong start for the Tories, but the key for all three parties where social media is concerned is turning friends into active supporters, prepared to spread the word. I expect we’ll be seeing quite a lot more about this in the weeks to come.

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