The Conservative Party lost the the election for a variety of reasons, but one of the main reasons was that they had an ineffective digital campaign compared to Labour.
The Conservative Party failed to put across their far superior message and policies to win votes to compete against Labour in part because one of the biggest areas of their campaign, the digital and social media campaign, was ineffective and failed against the far superior digital campaign of Labour and Momentum.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat are all recently becoming essential to winning an election. It is no longer enough to appear on TV and hand out leaflets, you have to have a serious, effective digital campaign, not only to win votes but to win the battle of ideas online. The digital campaign often spoke out about when referencing young voters, doesn’t just include young people, it includes everyone who consumes media online.
Consistently we see the Conservatives falling behind Labour in terms of following and engagement.
On Twitter Labour have a following of 509,000, 200,000 followers more than the the Conservatives at 284,000 followers. If you look at the Press accounts of both parties, again Labour comes out on top with 107,000 followers compared to the Conservatives 50,0000 followers.
Comparing the analytics of both leaders Twitter accounts we can see the scope of the failure that is the Conservative digital campaign. Jeremy Corbyns tweets in a one year span were re-tweeted an average of 1390 times per tweet according to Twitonomy. Theresa Mays tweets in a one year span were re-tweeted an average of 795 times per tweet according to Twitonomy. Engagement with Theresa May on twitter is much lower than Jeremy Corbyns engagement, meaning that Theresa May failed to engage and connect with users, leading to her tweets becoming less important and less valuable than Jeremy Corbyns.
But a key part of Twitter is actually tweeting. Theresa May doesn’t even average one tweet per day at 0.72 tweets per day. Jeremy Corbyn averages 7.57 tweets per day. Theresa May is failing to spread her message and talk about the things she is doing as Prime Minister.
Staying on Twitter but moving away from the leaders, MPs also play a role in a parties digital campaign. But in order for them all to play a part, they actually have to be on Twitter. According to MPs on Twitter only 79% of Conservative MPs are on Twitter, compared to 92% of Labour MPs on Twitter. In the top 10 most followed MPs on Twitter, six are Labour MPs and only two are Conservative MPs, Theresa May and Boris Johnson.
Moving to Instagram, the situation is just as bad. While the evidence suggests that Instagram users don’t use the platform much for following political parties as both Labour and the Conservative party have considerably low followings, Labour still come out on top. The Conservatives have a following of 7,955 users while Labour have more than three times that amount at 37,000 followers. The Conservatives, according to Keyhole, have an average of 516 likes per post while Labour have an average of 1,629 likes per post.
Comparing the two leaders on Instagram shows a similar picture. Theresa May has a following of 18,000 with her last post at the time of writing this six days ago. Jeremy Corbyn once again dwarfs Theresa May with a following of 120,000. Theresa May has an average of 909 likes per post while Jeremy Corbyn has an average of 6,704 likes.
As a side note, at the time of writing, the official account of the Prime Minister on Instagram hasn’t been updated since August 6th 2016.
Moving on to Facebook we can see once again the Conservative digital campaign failing. The Conservative Party has been liked by 634,589 people compared to Labour which has been liked by 1,006,575 people. According to LikeAlyzer the Conservatives have an engagement rate of 4.55% and on average their posts get 2,853 likes, comments and shares. The Labour Party have an engagement rate of 8.46% and on average their posts get 13,367 likes, comments and shares.
Onto the two leaders Facebook Theresa May has 438,642 likes (530,513 followers) while Jeremy Corbyn has 1,372,031 likes (1,375,349 followers). Theresa May has an engagement rate of 36.41% and on average her posts get 9,038 likes, comments and shares. Jeremy Corbyn has an engagement rate of 44.75% and on average his posts get 16,353 likes, comments and shares.
Moving on again to YouTube is where the digital campaign starts to look up. Both parties have nearly the same amount of subscribers at 21,151 for the Conservatives and 22,538 for Labour. But the Conservatives dwarf Labour in terms of views. The Conservatives most viewed video has 1,362,651 views while Labours most viewed video only has 666,786 views. The combined views of the Conservatives channel currently stands at 14,759,221 views, towering over Labour at 6,316,943 views. This perhaps indicates that the Conservative Party is at its strongest on YouTube or creating video content.
Finally, Snapchat. Snapchat is the future among young people and it will only get bigger. As far as I can find only Jeremy Corbyn has a Snapchat account. I would recommend that both parties begin a Snapchat account to appeal to younger voters and keep up with the changing digital times. There has also been reports of both parties paying for ads on Snapchat.
It is clear that the Conservative Party need to massively improve their digital campaign to compete with Labour but something I haven’t mentioned yet, is Momentum.
Momentum, the left-wing political organisation loyal to Jeremy Corbyn. It currently claims to have 24,000 members and has tens of millions of views on its Facebook page. There is no doubt it has been extremely important in garnering support for Jeremy Corbyn and votes for the Labour Party. The Conservatives have to look at Momentum and try to emulate what they have done in helping the Labour Party.
There has been talk since the General Election loss that the Conservatives are looking to set up their own version of Momentum or at least emulate their tactics and that is good news. Michael Gove a Conservative MP and Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “The Conservative Party can learn a lot from Momentum” and Robert Halfon MP, a former education minister and newly elected chairman of the Education Select Committee, said the Conservative Party needed to imitate Momentum.
Its very clear that the Conservative digital campaign needs a serious overhaul if the Party want to keep up and actively compete with the Labour Party. The Conservative Party online, fail at practically every level. As part of a series of articles on the current situation of the Conservative digital campaign, I have written a separate article on the case for a Conservative Momentum and how it can be created.
However it isn’t all bad news. A rising star in the Conservative Party seems to have a knack of courting young voters and utilizing social media incredibly well. That star, is Jacob Rees- Mogg. After only being on Twitter for 22 days, Jacob already has 41,000 followers and on his recently created Instagram he has 40,000 followers. If the Conservative Party want to make gains online and look into the future, they should look towards Jacob Rees-Mogg as a shining example of how the Conservatives can utilize social media and gain the support of young voters. I for one, find the image below incredibly amusing.
In conclusion, while the Conservative Party did win the election, they didn’t win an outright majority and they didn’t get anywhere close to were they wanted to be. This is in part due to inferior digital campaign they ran compared to Labours massively successfully and definitely far superior digital campaign which helped them do better than expected. While Labour did lose it wasn’t because of its digital campaign, there are far bigger issues involving Labour which will be talked about in a later article after our series on the Conservatives has finished.
The Conservative Party need to completely overhaul their digital campaign if they want to do better at the next election. Whether that includes bringing in a new team or hiring me! Social media is a powerful tool to utilize for any purpose. But the future is online, and the Conservative Party need to recognize that or face an even worse General Election result than previously.
If they decided to hire me, I would implement changes which I outline in the next article in this series, Changes to improve the Conservative digital campaign.