Quick thoughts on the 2015 General Election with relation to social media

The results are in, the pollsters look to have been proven wrong and all across my social media feeds, I'm seeing plenty of posts asking just how the Conservative party are able to get anywhere near a majority.

One lengthy explanation may partly answer this question. Twitter especially has a tendency to be somewhat of an echo chamber, so anybody leaning to the left or the right if unlikely to follow people of a differing political persuasion, so your own opinions become amplified in your impression of the overall influence.

Secondly, the tactics applied by the political parties differed in their approach to targeting. Miliband and Labour went for wide reach with their message (including the Russell Brand interview, which I still think was a good move, even if the impact may not be felt until the next election), while the Conservatives targeted their messaging at their core vote - it may not have resonated beyond those who may have already considered voting Conservative, but it certainly appealed to their audience. Both strategies were risky, but if Labour failed in both their wider comms and core audience, it left them vulnerable to opponents well-targeted messaging.

This meant even though Labour may have taken a greater share of voice on Twitter, analysts fell into the easy trap a lot of marketers make of mistaking social reach for effectiveness. Yes, you may have achieved a large number of impressions, and trended, but that more low-key brand who have targeted their comms and advertising more effectively, have seen more conversions. 

As an aside, it's easy to focus on social comms and forget the effect of offline as well.

Of course, there's more than just social (as has been shown). The collapse of the Lib Dem vote and the success of the SNP is worth exploring in depth (by somebody other than me).

This isn't to say social didn't have a part to play in the election (although judging by the candidates in my constituency, they've still to get to grips with even the basics), but as any good marketer know, placing too much faith in conversation when your goal is conversion is never going to end well.