It’s clear that digital has come to the forefront in this year’s general election. The influence of social media and Twitter in particular, has played a central role.
This week, we heard that the Electoral Commission has teamed up with Twitter to remind people to register to vote. This involved Twitter users in the UK being sent a reminder in their timelines that the deadline to register is only seven days away, with a link to the hashtag #RegisterToVote.
As deadline day approaches, political conversations continue to gather pace, with Twitter providing the perfect forum. The recent broadcasted head-to-head of party leaders sparked over 1.5 million tweets, with #BattleforNumber10 trending worldwide. Such is Twitter’s influence, that a recent survey of UK users found that nearly half said they joined a political cause based on information learned on Twitter and even changed their vote based on discussions on the site.
There are more than 15 million Twitter users in the UK. Yet, the ability to predict voting intentions has always been aired with caution. Let’s not forget recently in the vote for Scotland’s independence, the yes campaign was a clear winner on Twitter but failed to translate this advantage into votes when the moment of truth arrived.
One thing that cannot be disputed though is the growing trust people have in social media sites, Twitter being the most prominent example. The ability to change opinions and influence thought and discussion, is powerful. It is also clear that political parties have recognised this and made social media their go-to channel to address the public and reach out personally to people in the digital age.
Social media is on a fast track journey. Sure, it may be struggling to achieve the level of new users it used to, but over the years it’s evolved from just a consumer fad for picture posting, sharing jokes and tweeting about your day, to a powerful source of factual information on which users can base their opinions. For many also, it’s now an integral part of life, where you can keep up to date with the latest news, local and national, and be part of the conversation. Nearly everyone has a vote in the General Election but on Twitter, everyone has a voice.