Editor’s note: This column is part of a series dedicated to looking at the digital strategies and tactics being employed in the U.K elections. This series will explore how each of the parties are using search and display advertising, social media, and other digital tools, techniques, and platforms — as well as how they measure the results of their efforts.
The televised leaders debates, introduced for the first time in U.K. elections during this campaign, have been such a success that they are unquestionably here to stay. The challenge for the campaigns has been to involve members and supporters in a deeper and more interactive way, to generate weight behind the Labour message, and to involve them in an important event. The two Ms — motivate and mobilise — pretty much sum up the guiding principles of Labour’s new media strategy.
What we’ve seen so far is that the bulk of the action around these kinds of televised events takes place largely on Twitter, with Facebook secondary, and others on the margins. We set out to harness the efforts of our candidates alongside our online activists by devoting our homepage to a stream of their tweets.
The Internet makes it easy for our supporters to spread our message for us, and the debates dashboard was about making it as easy as possible for our supporters to make the case for Labour during the debate. It will clearly show what Labour figures are saying about the debate — featuring Labour MPs and candidates and bloggers’ tweets.
The key was making it as easy as possible to use the page and not to have to go off elsewhere, so we made it possible for people to tweet, re-tweet, @reply, join Facebook discussions, update their status via this page, and even watch a live stream of the television coverage, so people could watch the debate and engage with their social networks in one place.
We also provided visible content, enabling users to quickly rebut lines used by David Cameron and Nick Clegg during and immediately after the debate. This included a “Debate Prep Book” where people could read up on Labour’s policies around the issues that were discussed.
There was also a “For The Record” section where we published live updates from our press office on what was being discussed as the debate unfolded — and making it as easy as possible for our supporters to share this content on Facebook and Twitter.
The site has been used by tens of thousands of supporters and received hundreds of visits from mainstream media organisations looking to take the temperature from our side in terms of real-time reactions.
We have evolved our offering from week one and two with features aimed at what we have offered on the dashboard with some new features this week, which are largely aimed at mobilising our online activists towards a “One week to go — Get Out The Vote” message.
This is important because we’ve been able to use our online activists really well so far to motivate and facilitate real-world campaigning objectives (doorstep contacts, phone banking, event organising) and it’s a really positive message.