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a little more

conversation, a
little more action:
Orange’s digital election analysis
By Anthony Painter
There’s been far too much
old media triumphalism about the
supposed failure of the internet election
to deliver. From Twitter to YouTube to
Facebook, new media transformed the
experience of an election campaign for
a new generation of young voters. The
internet may not have won it - but can
we imagine a future campaign without
the innovation it offered both to the
parties and the public?”
Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC Digital
Election Correspondent
About the author
Anthony Painter is a writer and
political commentator who blogs at and is
currently leading the ‘Open Coalitions’
project at Demos, where he is an

A little more conversation, a little more action: Orange’s digital election analysis | 3
a little more
a little more action:
Orange’s digital election analysis
Old or new media? Or both?
There was an effervescent media buzz
prior to the election about whether it
wou|d be the frst '|nternet e|ect|on.` As |t
happened, old media was the triumphant
winner - the leaders’ debates drove the
ent|re campa|gn on a nat|ona| |eve|. We||,
at least they did until Gordon Brown
met G||||an Duffy. But the |nternet d|d
have a s|gn|fcant ro|e to p|ay: |t was an
echo chamber for what was unfurling
on broadcast media; the campaign
was amp||fed through new med|a; and
people engaged one another through
social media and other means such as
d|scuss|on boards.
The problem in analysing the role
that digital media plays is that the
question is too often posed in a binary
fash|on. ls |t trad|t|ona| campa|gn|ng
or e-campa|gn|ng? ls |t o|d med|a or
new media? Digital media in modern
politics is not a replacement of old media
and campa|gn|ng. There |s a mutua|
dependence and integration between
the two.
We ||ve |n a wor|d where the |nternet
(and increasingly social media) is a
fundamental part of the lives of most
Br|tons. We shop on||ne, we soc|a||se
on||ne, we fnd a date on||ne, we get the
news, download music, do business,
research and book ho||days. And we
do it through our TVs, PCs, and mobile
dev|ces. So why wou|d po||t|cs be any
different? The reality is that it’s not
d|fferent. Br|t|sh peop|e |ncreas|ng|y
consume and even participate in politics
on||ne. So, as the ||bera| Democrat
strategist, Mark Pack, recently stated
'|s th|s the frst |nternet e|ect|on?` |s the
wrong quest|on. Rather, we have to
move on to how the |nternet |nfuenced
voters, campaigners, and the media in
the e|ect|on.
There are three ways in which the
internet and social media can connect
w|th po||t|ca| change and conversat|on:
When many quest|on whether th|s was
'an |nternet e|ect|on` they are us|ng (iii)
to make that judgement. Th|s e|ect|on
though, was mainly in categories (i)
and (ii). We cou|d hear the campa|gn
through new media and, to a degree, it
was amp||fed there. However, th|s t|me
around |t was not dr|ven by new med|a.
Television (leaving newspapers trailing - it
was not the Sun wot won |tì was the
b|g dr|ver.
You can hear |t there.
lt can be !"#$%&'( there.
lt can ()%*' political change
and conversat|on.
ln an Orange comm|ss|oned po|| by
YouGov, we found that indeed a majority
of voters have engaged |n po||t|cs on||ne:
So 61% are gett|ng the|r |nformat|on
on||ne. Th|s suggests that much of the
digital engagement is still passive rather
than act|ve, |.e. |t |s about obta|n|ng
information rather than participating in
po||t|ca| conversat|on. So the campa|gn
could be +'!)( on||ne.
We can see th|s he|ghtened act|v|ty
fo||ow|ng the debates. Üs|ng Goog|e
lns|ght ana|ys|s, we can see how |nterest
in the respective party leaders peaks
after the te|ev|s|on debates |key: ye||ow |s
Nick Clegg, blue is David Cameron, red is
Gordon Brownì:
The debates were on Apr|| 15th and 22nd
and there is a surge of search interest -
especially in Nick Clegg - for the 48 hours
or so after the debate. The huge surge of
|nterest |n Gordon Brown |n |ate Apr|| |s, of
course, the G||||an Duffy |nc|dent.
A little more conversation, a little more action: Orange’s digital election analysis | 4
Text message
Soc|a| med|a |e.g. Tw|tter, F||ckr, Facebook, YouTubeì
E-mail from local candidates or parties
Newspapers websites / BBC online
On||ne advert|s|ng |e.g. Goog|e or Facebookì
18 Apr 25 Apr 2 May
And dur|ng the debate Tw|tter was
red hot w|th comment. Tweetm|nster
reported the following data on the
Debate 1
Debate 2
What th|s shows |s the |ntegrated nature
of modern po||t|cs. You can`t d|vorce
what is happening on television or on
the doorstep from what then happens in
cyberspace. The |eaders` debates were
an exerc|se |n d|rect voter engagement.
very qu|ck|y, the 'w|nner` was
established both by the direct reaction of
the audience and instant polls released
fo||ow|ng the debates. voters then went
onto the web to inform themselves
further. Meanwh||e, act|v|sts and
|nfuencers were busy us|ng Tw|tter to
spread their own thoughts and gauge
the react|on of others. The st|mu|us
was old media - the television debates
themselves and polling - but then the
react|on was echoed and amp||fed
through new med|a. And voters have
started to engage in a richer political
Tota| Number of tweets:
Average frequency: 29.06
Number of Tweeters: 36,483
Tota| Number of tweets:
Average frequency: 26.6
Number of Tweeters: 28,790
Text voting
Texts to or from friends and family
Soc|a| networks |e.g. Tw|tter, F||ckr, Facebook, YouTubeì
Candidates’ or commentators’ blogs
Forums on |ssues or Party webs|tes
Forums on newspaper webs|tes
Other online forums/communities |e.g. mumsnet, myfootba||forumì
Not app||cab|e |l have not commented on the genera| e|ect|onì
A little more conversation, a little more action: Orange’s digital election analysis | 5
conversat|on on||ne. As th|s expands,
the internet will begin to drive political
conversation though it didn’t achieve that
in this election, especially if fundraising
and supporter mobilisation goes to
another |eve|. The Orange/YouGov po||
found that the following media were
engaged dur|ng the e|ect|on:
So wh||e the predom|nant mode |s
broadcast peer-to-peer, interaction
|s tak|ng a substant|a| p|ace a|so.
lnterest|ng|y, 24% of 18-24 year-o|ds
report engaging with the election via
soc|a| med|a.
Interactive med|a |s start|ng to fnd |ts
p|ace |n the po||t|ca| conversat|on.
This report covers three different aspects
of the campa|gn:
the aerial
Each of the parties pursued very different
strateg|es. The Oonservat|ves - ab|e
to take advantage of the|r s|gn|fcant
fnanc|a| frepower - went for a centra||sed
approach that dep|oyed smart target|ng.
lt was an approach ak|n to on||ne and
d|rect market|ng. |abour went for a word
of mouth approach designed to empower
activists in their one-to-one contacts with
voters and each other. And the ||bera|
Democrats pursued a more quirky and
creative approach and often relied on
unoffc|a| channe|s to capture supporters
and d|ssem|nate the|r message.
A little more conversation, a little more action: Orange’s digital election analysis | 6
Strategy (‘the aerial battle’)
How d|d the ma|n part|es campa|gn
using new communication and
organisation technologies?
Creativity (‘lone soldiers’)
How d|d others - |nc|ud|ng the
media, issue campaigns, bloggers,
humourists, etc - use new media and
who was successful?
Engagement (‘the ground war’)
How d|d cand|dates and |oca|
campaigners engage directly with
voters through new media and who
got it right?
The Conservatives targeted voters
d|rect|y. |abour targeted act|v|sts.
And the ||bera| Democrats a|med to
capture some of the wave that their
leader was creating through his debate
new political marketing
One b|g advantage of super|or fnanc|a|
muscle is that you can invest heavily
not only in your web presence but
in promoting it and integrating your
campaign infrastructure to directly
target |nd|v|dua| voters. And th|s was
the Conservative approach in the
e|ect|ons. There were the organ|sat|ona|
too|s - such as myconservat|
but these weren’t what really drove the
Oonservat|ve strategy. The strategy was
more akin to the type of very targeted
marketing deployed in the corporate
wor|d. lt`s very expens|ve, but executed
|n the r|ght way, |t`s effect|ve.
This strategy manifested itself in
|nvestment |n Goog|e AdWords, d|rect
mailing, through email, and targeted use
of advert|s|ng through Facebook
. For
examp|e, through the dat|ng s|te match.
com, people in income groups (you give
your income when you sign up to the
s|teì most affected by |abour`s nat|ona|
insurance increase were targeted
with advertising
. Th|s was a|||ed w|th
email and direct marketing using the
type of rich data about localities that
someone like Tesco would use, allied
with the parties’ own data collected by
canvassers on the doorstep.
James Orabtree, Dav|d Oameron`s batt|e to connect. W|red
Magaz|ne, Apr|| 2010.
Gaby H|ns||ff, Web 2.0: the new e|ect|on superweapon. The
Observer, Apr|| 11th 2010.
A little more conversation, a little more action: Orange’s digital election analysis | 7
lnnovat|ons such as WebOameron - a
personalised video series featuring David
Cameron - helped the party to build
up a ||st of 500,000 ema|| addresses.
WebOameron came to not|ce |n the ÜS
even before the Obama `08 campa|gn
k|cked off. So the Oonservat|ves were
early innovators and focused relentlessly
on message de||very.
As a resu|t, 58% of voters reported
contact from the Conservatives prior to
the short campa|gn compared w|th 46%
for the ||bera| Democrats and 35% for
the |abour Party
. So us|ng an |ntegrated
and targeted marketing approach, the
Conservatives were able to amplify their
campa|gn messages.
And as the |mage be|ow shows, the
Conservatives had very prominent
target|ng of Goog|e searches. Here are
the sponsored links on a search for
'Gordon Brown`.
The Conservatives were also able to
get the|r v|deos v|ewed by a s|gn|fcant
number on||ne. For examp|e, Dav|d
Cameron’s election launch speech
was v|ewed over 175,000 t|mes and a
YouTube v|deo of Samantha Oameron
was v|ewed more than 110,000 t|mes.
And the|r Facebook page had |n
excess of 70,000 fans. On the day
of the election, the Conservatives
sponsored the front page of YouTube
at an est|mated £100,000 cost. ln tota|,
'WebOameron` was v|ewed a|most one
million times during the course of the
lt d|dn`t a|| go to p|an, however.
One of their attack campaign sites was beset
by mischievous (and, on occasion,
offensive) hacking when a number of
programmers noticed that computer
code could be inserted into the site’s
Tw|tter feed to red|rect |t to other s|tes.
The s|te had to be taken off|ne.
Cash goes a long way
but there is little doubt
and targeted the
Conservative message.
A little more conversation, a little more action: Orange’s digital election analysis | 8
Labour - making a virtue
out of necessity
Had the reta|| market|ng on||ne strategy
been ava||ab|e to the |abour Party |t m|ght
we|| have pursued |t. However, due to
fnanc|a| constra|nts |t was not and so |t
had to fnd another way of us|ng d|g|ta|
med|a to support |ts campa|gn. ln what
|abour`s campa|gn strateg|st Doug|as
A|exander descr|bed as a 'word of mouth
election’, the strategy was to galvanise
the |abour party mach|ne to take the
campaign directly to voters, doorstep
to doorstep. Ün||ke the Oonservat|ve
campaign which targeted voters directly,
the a|m of the |abour campa|gn was to
energ|se |ts act|v|st base.
The jewel in the party’s crown was
Membersnet. Though |aunched three
years ago to |ess of a fanfare than www.
myconservat| |t had more t|me
to become accepted and used by party
act|v|sts. Membersnet he|ped act|v|sts to
organise events, disseminated campaign
materials, kept them in touch with other
activists, and gave all members access to
a 'v|rtua| phone bank` that was essent|a||y
an anywhere/anytime phone canvassing
too|. The 'v|rtua| phone bank` was a|so
accessible through the party’s iPhone
The pop gossip site PopBitch gave the
app an 8 out of 10, dec|ar|ng |t to be
'surpr|s|ng|y |nterest|ng.` Pra|se |ndeed.
A|ongs|de these too|s, |abour ran a
number of issue campaigns to target
spec|fc poo|s of voters. 'Ed`s P|edge` |the
Ed |n quest|on was the Secretary of State
for Energy and Climate Change) on the
env|ronment and the 'Save our Sure Start`
campaigns were the most prominent
The |atter campa|gn dep|oyed Facebook
segmented advertising to get the
message across.
The 'word of mouth` theme was
supported by soc|a| med|a. v|rtua| phone
bank activity was boosted using the
#mobmonday hashtag when activists
across the country would use the tool
to target particular constituencies on
every Monday in the run-up to campaign
and e|ect|on. And |n the fna| days of the
campaign a splash page appeared on
arrival at the party’s site encouraging
supporters to spread the word about
|abour aga|n us|ng the hashtag
|abour`s d|g|ta| campa|gn had an act|ve
and energetic feel to it, and it had an
|mpact. ln the short campa|gn, as
well as a million and a half site-views
overa||, |abour was mak|ng 300,000
voter contacts per week compared
w|th 100,000 per week |n 2005. There
were 60,000 contacts made per week
us|ng the v|rtua| phone bank, 60,000
v|ewed the man|festo on||ne w|th 50,000
down|oad|ng the pdf. 30,000 members
used Membersnet, where over 15,000
campa|gn events were organ|sed.
|abour a|so managed to ra|se £350,000
A little more conversation, a little more action: Orange’s digital election analysis | 9
|abour had |ts successes on YouTube.
The manifesto was launched with the
a|d of a v|ra| an|mated f|m from R|d|ey
Scott Assoc|ates wh|ch was v|ewed over
130,000 t|mes. A party e|ect|on broadcast
featur|ng the comed|an, Edd|e lzzard, was
v|ewed over 110,000 t|mes.
The party had mishaps online just as the
Tor|es d|d. lt dec|ded to use |ts poo| of
supporters’ creativity in a crowd sourcing
exerc|se to des|gn a campa|gn poster. The
winning idea was to cast David Cameron
as a throwback to the 1980s. Oameron
was featured as Gene Hunt, the hard-
||v|ng, Aud| Quattro dr|v|ng, macho 1980s
cop from the h|t BBO drama ser|es, Ashes
to Ashes. Rather than underm|n|ng the
Tory leader, it made him look rather cool
and was met w|th an |mmed|ate 'fre up
the Quattro` response from the Tor|es.
Labour’s campaign was
in 2005 and that was
partly down to its digital
campaign. Ultimately
though, the digital
campaign suffered from
lack of funding.
Liberal Democrats - trying to catch
the wave
The cha||enge for the ||bera| Democrats
|n|t|a||y was to be not|ced. ln order to
achieve this they introduced a new
leadership candidate to the world -
Gorv|d Oamerown. Re|ay|ng messages
about the defc|enc|es of both part|es,
a YouTube animated video morphing
disturbingly between images of David
Cameron and Gordon Brown was
produced by the advert|s|ng agency, lr|s.
Th|s was watched a|most 50,000 t|mes.
lt was accompan|ed by a m|cro-s|te
The main party website was devoted
almost exclusively to policy and focused
very heav||y on the man|festo. O|ear|y
sensitive to the charge that they were
policy light the strategy was to use the
party`s web presence to rebut that. N|ck
Clegg was the only one of the three main
party |eaders to tweet.
Th|s was a|| fne: sturd|ness m|xed w|th a
degree of creat|v|ty. And then came the
frst |eaders` debate.
Stra|ght away, |nterest |n the party
surged. The sp|ash page of the party`s
site was devoted to desperately trying to
capture visitors’ details and bind them
|nto the party`s databases.
A little more conversation, a little more action: Orange’s digital election analysis | 10
Stra|ght after the frst debate, the
party`s Facebook fan base went from
13,456 to 46,500 and then to 66,689
after the second debate. By the end
of the campaign it was up around the
80,000 mark. |abour`s by contrast was
|angu|sh|ng at around 35,000 wh||e
the Conservatives who had long been
target|ng Facebook were on|y s||ght|y
beh|nd the ||bera| Democrats. N|ck O|egg
(@nick_clegg) ended the campaign with in
excess of 38,000 Tw|tter fo||owers.
lt was ma|n|y through unoffc|a| channe|s
that digital media really boosted the
||bera| Democrats. Fo||ow|ng success
|n gett|ng Rage aga|nst the Mach|ne to
Ohr|stmas Number One, Ben Stockman
set up the Facebook page ‘We got Rage
Against the Machine to #1, we can get
!"#$%&'$(#)*$&+!,$,-./#01 By polling day it
had 162,500 members.

ln response to press attacks on the
||bera| Democrat |eader, Tw|tter users
established a hashtag #nickcleggsfault
to mock the attacks. lt ended up as the
ÜK`s number one trend|ng top|c and one
of the |ead|ng trend|ng top|cs g|oba||y.
The TV satirist and writer of The Thick
of lt, Armando lannucc| |who |ater
endorsed the ||bera| Democratsì, even
p|tched |n:
Nick Clegg lived
in the same town as
a seriously ill man and
never visited him,
though he knows he
has a spare kidney.”
Th|s unoffc|a| act|v|ty was spontaneous,
effervescent, and, in many ways,
anarch|c. lt was exact|y what a web
campa|gn shou|d be. But from the
||bera| Democrats` perspect|ve there |s
just one issue with this and this is why it
strugg|ed, as a party, to catch the wave.
lt`s great hav|ng 160,000 Facebook fans
on an unoffc|a| fan page but how do you
capture that as an organisation? They
could have created an entire new party
- the numbers in this group were much
greater than the number of members
of the|r party. But they were |n the
databases of Facebook, not the ||bera|
The ||bera| Democrats underperformed
the|r po|| rat|ng go|ng |nto May 6th.
Digital media was used to capture the
wave of support for the candidacy of
Barack Obama |n the ÜS pres|dent|a|
election because his digital campaign
was ready to capture |t. The ||bera|
Democrats were not similarly prepared
- they lacked the organisational and
fnanc|a| musc|e to do so.
A little more conversation, a little more action: Orange’s digital election analysis | 11
With the right digital tools
and funding, election
2010 could have created
an entire new party for
the Liberal Democrats.
They (understandably)
failed to catch the wave.
Labour also managed to
raise £350,000 online.
A little more conversation, a little more action: Orange’s digital election analysis | 12
the creativity
lt |s |n the nature of d|g|ta| med|a to
capture dispersed creativity in a way that
c|osed organ|sat|ons fa|| to do. Oreat|v|ty
comes from open thinking - the very anti-
thes|s to party ||nes and group-th|nk. And
there were some spectacular successes
|n the d|g|ta| campa|gn of 2010.
Before the campaign even began, an
independent creative media specialist,
O||fford S|nger, had set about underm|n|ng
the Oonservat|ves frst b|||board
campaign of the long campaign with
mydav| wh|ch a||owed
visitors to the site to put their own slogan
|nstead of the offc|a| Oonservat|ve party
s|ogan. lt was an off|ne and ma|nstream
med|a h|t.
Video was a powerful medium in the
e|ect|on. v|ra| v|deo Ohart p|aced a v|deo
transpos|ng a refned mock Bu|||ngdon
O|ub vers|on of the Pu|p h|t 'Oommon
People’ alongside images of David
Oameron. The v|deo was v|ewed over
300,000 t|mes on YouTube and shared
over 18,000 t|mes. The Gordon Brown
'b|goted woman` moment generated
the most |nterest, however. The most
popular YouTube clip of the moment was
v|ewed over 360,000 t|mes.
The most impressive campaign was
the Electoral Commission’s partnership
w|th Facebook wh|ch targeted a|| young
ÜK users of Facebook through the
s|te`s Democracy ÜK page |n order to
encourage them to vote. The campa|gn
resu|ted |n a tota| of 540,000 voter
registration forms being downloaded
ahead of the ÜK genera| e|ect|on.
B|ue State D|g|ta|, the Obama `08 d|g|ta|
strategists, worked with the anti-fascist
campa|gn Hope not Hate to defeat
BNP cand|dates. Bu||d|ng on |ts ema||
database of over 100,000 peop|e
from its anti-BNP European election
campa|gn |when |t a|so mob|||sed 10,000
activists and raised well in excess of
£100,000ì the campa|gn focused on
two areas: Bark|ng and Dagenham, and
Stoke. Not a s|ng|e BNP cand|date
A little more conversation, a little more action: Orange’s digital election analysis | 13
won in the local or parliamentary
e|ect|ons. lt was comp|ete|y dr|ven by
activism and fundraising which was
immediately funneled to the frontline
Other successes |nc|uded Westm|nster
2010 - a 'dec|arat|on of Ohr|st|an
conscience’- which attracted almost
50,000 s|gnator|es. Power 2010
integrated an online petition to change
politics, with on-the-ground campaigners,
and Goog|e and Facebook advert|s|ng
with the objective of translating the
opportunity for change into real political
and e|ectora| reform. Th|s came |n usefu|
after the election when these lists were
used to organise demonstrations in favour
of 'fa|r votes.`
Stand|ng out amongst |ndependent
act|v|ty was TheStra|ghtOho| Th|s
was a crowd-sourcing site providing live
e|ect|on |eafet mon|tor|ng. S|te v|s|tors
were able to upload scanned-in campaign
|eafets. Thousands of |eafets from a|| over
the country were uploaded and the site
enables viewers to analyse these by party,
issue, constituency and constituency
groups. The organ|sers of the group
also carried out their own analysis of the
|eafets accord|ng to whether they were
local or national; about the candidate or
the party; positive or negative; policy or
personality; and single issue or multiple

Sky News` const|tuency ana|ys|s,
which combined candidates’ tweets
and information about each seat was
the strongest from the broadcasters.
The FT prov|ded some great on||ne
tools such as an interactive manifesto
comparison site and a frankly terrifying
tool that allowed you to select which
pub||c serv|ces to cu|| |n order to f|| the
enormous fsca| b|ack ho|e - not for the
faint hearted! Channel 4 News produced
a useful fact check blog which held
the parties to account for their factual
c|a|ms and counter c|a|ms. The lnst|tute
for F|sca| Stud|es was a|so a very usefu|
source of authoritative analysis in this
The Telegraph went for an approach
based on providing deeper information
about individual candidates and a space
for discussion about the issues, and
provided access to the Vote Match tool
to help voters decide which way they
shou|d go.
A little more conversation, a little more action: Orange’s digital election analysis | 14
A|| |n a|| though, compared to the deep
and rich information available from the
ÜS networks |n the ÜS e|ect|on - for
example, polling data that went beyond
the headline numbers - the media election
on||ne was fa|nt|y d|sappo|nt|ng.
The b|ogosphere |s a permanent fxture
|n ÜK po||t|cs now - a deve|opment s|nce
the |ast e|ect|on. And the major b|oggers
and blogs all contributed in their own
way to the discussion with most major
b|ogs enjoy|ng a sp|ke |n traffc. On the
r|ght, Gu|do Fawkes, la|n Da|e, and Tory
Bear comb|ne goss|p and refect|on fu||
of persona||ty. Oonservat|veHome and
their Editor Tim Montgomerie had an
outstand|ng e|ect|on. They even managed
to raise several thousand pounds for
Anthony Oa|vert`s campa|gn to unseat
Ed Ba||s MP |n Mor|ey and Outwood. He
was just 1,101 votes short and secured a
9.5% sw|ng.
On the |eft, |eft Foot Forward, Hop| Sen,
|abour||st, and Sunder Katwa|a at Next
|eft, tend to approach th|ngs from a
more policy, politics, and commentary
And |n the ||bera| Democrat b|ogosphere,
||bDem vo|ce, Mark Reckons, and G||es
W||kes at OentreForum are s|m||ar |n tone
and character to the |abour b|oggers.
The House of Tw|ts s|te prov|ded a good
RT-|ng serv|ce of |nterest|ng po||t|ca|
developments and a forum on its site
for grassroots political discussion and
analysis from all ends of the political
And Marmite... love or hate
F|na||y, advert|s|ng execut|ves, PR
people, and marketers seemed
incapable of resisting publicity
campaigns seeking to hook their
product to med|a |nterest |n the e|ect|on.
The vast majority of it was contrived
and poor|y executed. One g|or|ous
exception to this rule was Marmite’s viral
marketing campaign which was based
on a fur|ous e|ect|on fght between the
'|ove Party` and the 'Hate Party.` Each
party produced an election broadcast
|the |ove Party`s broadcast was v|ewed
18,000 t|mes wh|ch wasn`t far beh|nd
some of the actual election broadcast
on||ne v|ew|ng fguresì and a man|festo.
You either love or hate marmite and now
there was a chance to vote on |t. Who
won? The |ove Party of course.
winning the
ground war
Technology has long been incorporated
|nto the too| set of the |oca| act|v|st.
Mobile phones are the means by which
campa|gns are organ|sed. Much po||t|ca|
trading and negotiation is no longer
done |n smoke-f||ed rooms but v|a ema||.
And soc|a| med|a |s the way that poo|s
of act|v|sts are expanded and organ|sed.
Somet|mes |oca| campa|gners just don`t
get |t, as |n the case of |abour
A little more conversation, a little more action: Orange’s digital election analysis | 15
cand|date, Stuart Mac|ennan, who was
fred after us|ng Tw|tter to make a ser|es
of abus|ve comments about |abour
colleagues and even innocent by-
However, there were more successfu|
uses of new med|a than Mac|ennan`s
unfortunate |ntervent|on. Here are some of
the best
Charlie Elphicke didn’t go for super slick
design but he went for an approach that
attempted to engage voters in the Dover
and Dea|. H|s webs|te - www.e|ph|cke.
com - featured 'OhatMap` wh|ch was a
chat tool that linked discussion threads to
|ocat|on on a Goog|eMap. Th|s enab|es
people to click on the map to see what
d|scuss|ons are go|ng on |n the|r area.
H|s campa|gn secured a w|nn|ng
10.5% sw|ng |n h|s favour aga|nst a
nat|ona| sw|ng of 5% |n favour of the
,!(+%"-.!+!/% meanwhile launched
'4Stratford` - a too| for search|ng
publicly available datasets such as
planning applications, crime maps, and
local authority expenditure mixed with
mapping data to provide rich information
about the |oca| area. Th|s |s a too| that
will be expanded now that Zahawi’s
e|ect|on campa|gn was successfu|.
Both ,%0'$-1(!"2, Conservative
cand|date for Se|by and A|nsty and
,%34$!-5$!36/44(, the candidate
for Oxford West and Ab|ngdon both
went for c|ear and h|gh |mpact des|gn.
B|ackwood won the seat on a 7% sw|ng
against the popular and renowned
||bera| Democrat, Dr Evan Harr|s. Th|s
compared to a nat|ona| sw|ng of 1.5%
from the ||bera| Democrats to the
A little more conversation, a little more action: Orange’s digital election analysis | 16
Liberal Democrats
On every level, 7899'-:'!;+')2;49'<2
campa|gn s|te exce||ed: des|gn,
engagement, re|evance, |nformat|on.
lt featured a '||festream` wh|ch was
bas|ca||y a ||ve feed of a|| of Featherstone`s
social media and web engagements -
Tw|tter, Facebook, b|og, news, v|deo,
F||ckr, etc. Beyond the s|te she used
Twitter proactively to engage potential
act|v|sts, supporters, and voters. For
example, she tweeted to gauge reaction
to her party`s |oca| p|edges. By the end
of the campa|gn Featherstone had over
3,000 Facebook fr|ends and a|most
3,000 Tw|tter fo||owers.
Her campa|gn secured a sw|ng of a|most
4% aga|nst |abour aga|nst a nat|ona|
sw|ng of 3.5% |though |n |ondon the
sw|ng from ||bera| Democrat to |abour
was on|y 1.25% so |t`s an even better
performance by that measure.ì
Evan Harr|s was perhaps the most
pro||fc tweet|ng MP dur|ng the e|ect|on
and has over 8,000 fo||owers. He used |t
to mobilise and recruit volunteers to his
campa|gn. However, h|s web presence
overall was not up to the standards of
h|s d|rect opponent N|co|a B|ackwood.
H|s party a|so tact|ca||y moved resources
to the neighbouring Oxford East
constituency and that, in part, explains
why he was unab|e to ho|d onto h|s seat.
A little more conversation, a little more action: Orange’s digital election analysis | 17
=;'$$!->)'!2'8 understands community
organising style campaigning and
soc|a| med|a. She |s act|ve |n bu||d|ng
relationships with constituents in
Wa|thamstow, often us|ng Tw|tter |she
fnds |ssues of |oca| |nterest there and
engages with people on that basis) and
manages an ema|| ||st of 3,000 or so
that focuses on local information and
engagement rather than raw po||t|cs.
And her s|te |s very engag|ng, act|ve,
and proactive with great use of different
med|a. Aston|sh|ng|y she |ncreased
|abour`s support |n th|s safe seat w|th a
m|n|scu|e sw|ng ||ess than 0.1%ì to her
ma|n opponent, the ||bera| Democrats.
7?6'-@4$$!)(<2 s|te |n South West Devon
succeeded through the use of video
wh|ch prov|des very r|ch content. He had
a great blog also, as well as the range
of engagement and soc|a| med|a too|s.
Despite this, it was always going to be
a d|ffcu|t e|ect|on as he started a d|stant
th|rd p|ace to the Oonservat|ves.
Stuart King in Putney also produced
a stunningly designed and accessible
s|te. lt was very act|on dr|ven: vo|unteer,
get yourself a postal vote, pledge
your support, make a donation, join
|abour etc. Aga|n, however, |t wasn`t
enough to prevent a large swing to the
Other local campaigns tended to major
on personality over engagement and
the two clearest examples of this were
the campaign sites of >!)4$%9'-7?3!2-
in Brighton Pavilion and Nigel Farage
|n Buck|ngham. N|ge| Farage`s s|te |ed
w|th h|s 'fght|ng bu||` s|ogan but offered
very ||tt|e by way of |nteract|on. Oaro||ne
|ucas`s s|te had much more by way
of engagement and included a blog
and soc|a| med|a. lt was competent
and striking and doubtlessly made a
contr|but|on to her remarkab|e 9.4%
surge |n support.
A little more conversation, a little more action: Orange’s digital election analysis | 18
A little more conversation, a little more action: Orange’s digital election analysis | 19
lf the standard |n campa|gn|ng through
d|g|ta| med|a |s the Obama `08 operat|on,
then all the major parties fell short in this
e|ect|on. Obama `08 d|rect|y targeted
messages at voters, enthused them, got
them to sign up, fundraised from them,
enabled social networks of support to
be built, captured the wave of support
for the candidate, and actually motivated
people to become active in their local
commun|t|es. lt echoed, amp||fed, and
drove traditional campaigning and media
and d|d so |n an |ntegrated fash|on.
However, |f the a|m for the next e|ect|on
|s to match what Obama `08 ach|eved,
then the campaigns will again fall short
of what could be achieved by seeking to
engage in a political conversation with
voters through new med|a. The key th|ng
w||| be to re||nqu|sh contro|. The future of
political parties will be very much about
creating new spaces for political dialogue
and engagement.
New med|a |nverts the fow of
communication between elites and us
a||. lf e||tes do not re||nqu|sh contro|, then
they w||| be |gnored. So the cha||enge
|s to fnd a new po||t|ca| conversat|on,
and digital technologies are a way of
enabling this at some point, politicians
and parties will have to increasingly
ask for permission to engage in
political conversations that are already
happening, for example, in the case of
web commun|t|es such as Mumsnet.
That requires adapting to the priorities
and language of those with whom you
engage. Reta|| po||t|cs w||| |ncreas|ng|y be
rep|aced by conversat|ona| po||t|cs.
The e|ect|on was heard and amp||fed
|n d|g|ta| med|a |n th|s e|ect|on.
lncreas|ng|y d|g|ta| engagement, when
meshed, blended and integrated
with more traditional forms of political
engagement, will come to drive the
po||t|ca| conversat|on. But the nature
of that conversat|on w||| be d|fferent. lt
w||| be a conversat|on between a|| of us.
And po||t|c|ans w||| have to fnd a way
|n. Oonsequent|y, po||t|cs w||| become a
more humb|e pursu|t.
th|s |s pr|nted on 100% recyc|ed mater|a| and can be recyc|ed aga|n OOH110063/0610