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UK Election 2010: 'Least Well-Kept Secret of Recent Years'

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According to BBC News, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has confirmed that UK Election 2010 will be held on May 6, 2010. Brown said it was the "least well-kept secret of recent years".

A BBC produced newsreel.

Image via Wikipedia

Many people are focused on the UK election polls. For example, I'm following FiveThirtyEight, which has already written 10 stories looking at swing voters, redistricting or proposed changes to the electoral system.

But Kate Kaye of ClickZ News and I will be focused on how the digital strategies and tactics popularized by the 2008 U.S. presidential election will translate to the 2010 election in Britain. Will Internet marketing have an impact in this year's British election as great as it did in the US in 2008? How do the approaches taken by Labour, the Conservatives, and the Liberal Democrats differ from what we've seen elsewhere?

To establish a baseline, let's look at the websites of each of the parties.

Starting with Labour, you'll see "follow us on Facebook and Twitter" chiclets in the upper right. Labour begins the campaign with 10,998 fans on Facebook and 12,144 followers on Twitter.

However, there is no chiclet to the UK Labour Party's channel on YouTube. Go there and you'll see that its videos have 1,117,786 upload views, but its channel has only 2,796 subscribers.

Ironically, the YouTube video embedded on the homepage of Labour's website features Tony Blair, former Prime Minister and former Leader of the Labour Party, putting the case for a 4th term Labour government in a speech at Trimdon Labour Club. And that video is hosted on the Tony Blair 4 Labour channel on YouTube, which has 1,991 upload views and just 16 subscribers.

A couple of links lower on the page is Change We Choose.

Now, this may just be one American's reaction, but shouldn't Labour be featuring videos of Brown instead of Blair on its homepage? Okay, so the British drink tea and Americans drink coffee. But isn't an election about the future instead of the past?

Meanwhile, the Conservative Party website has chiclets for Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Livestream, Delicious, and iTunes. Conservatives begin the campaign with 22,813 followers on Twitter, 30,824 fans on Facebook, a total of 1,614,187 upload views and 3,228 subscribers on YouTube, 2,902,361 viewer minutes on Livestream, 24 bookmarks on Delicious, and 415 ratings of The Conservative Party General Election App on iTunes.

The Conservative Party also has a photostream on Flickr -- with 313 photos.

The featured video on WebCameronUK features Websamcameron: Samantha Cameron hits the campaign trail.

Okay, so an American's point of view isn't worth a brass farthing in Great Britain, but I like the "unedited" style of the video. Yes, yes, I know the video was edited. But let me provide some context for my observation.

After the 2008 U.S. presidential election, I interviewed Arun Chaudhary, New Media Road Director of Obama for America, for my book, YouTube and Video Marketing: An Hour a Day. Chaudhary told me, "Folks really seemed to respond to being allowed to see the candidate unedited. In a sense they wanted to see the candidates in the raw and make their own decision, not to feel like they were being fed media. With a candidate as compelling as Barack Obama was, it made a lot of sense to let them see him in this manner. The more people actually saw him speak and hear his views, the more likely they were to vote for him. With a different candidate one might need to take a different strategy, but for us Barack Obama was always the star; we were just the backup singers."

Finally, let's look at the Liberal Democrats official website. OMG, they have a spash page before you can navigate to their homepage. You'd think at least one SEO consultant in the UK would have told them fancy features such as JavaScript, cookies, session IDs, frames, DHTML, or Flash may give search engine spiders trouble crawling their site.

When you get to the actual homepage, you'll see for Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube -- if you scroll down to the bottom of the page. The LibDems start the campaign with 11,167 fans on Facebook, 10,345 followers on Twitter, and 94,834 channel views and 1,705 subscribers on YouTube.

Their featured video is Nick Clegg & Vince Cable: Ready for Election 2010.

There you have it. The UK General Election campaign has officially begun. Of course there are differences on the other side of the pond. But, among the similarities are YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.

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