With the UK General Election now just weeks away, campaigning is in full swing. But this year, it’s not just traditional media that the parties are using to reach their audiences - we’re seeing more political activity taking place on social media than ever before.
But how engaged are social media users when it comes to politics, and will a social media strategy potentially make a difference when it comes to persuading those sought after undecided voters? GlobalWebIndex has tried to answer some of these questions in its latest report detailing the attitudes and digital behaviours amongst UK voters.
GlobalWebIndex found that all voter groups, bar those who vote Conservative, are spending more than one hour daily engaged on social networks. Green Party supporters are the most engaged voters spending around 1.62 hours on social media daily, followed by SNP voters with 1.57 hours. It is clear then, that social networks are a potentially useful tool to connect with party supporters.
The report also found the most popular network amongst all voters is, unsurprisingly, Facebook. Green Party supporters had the highest Facebook levels, with 85% claiming to have an account, as well as the highest active usage at 56%. While SNP supporters had the lowest user figure, it was still a fairly significant 73%. But of course, this is preaching to the converted. What will perhaps be more interesting to the parties is that 49% of those who are undecided about their vote are actively using Facebook on a monthly basis.
So far so good. The potential is clearly there to connect with voters on social, but are politicians using their own channels to communicate effectively with voters? GlobalWebIndex’s figures suggest perhaps not. The voters most likely to follow politicians on social media are Lib Dem supporters, and even then, only 14% say that they do. For the undecideds that figure is as low as 3%.
Politicians can take some heart from the fact that the report found that the volumes of people who follow journalists are similarly low; perhaps people aren’t ready to make a conscious decision to opt in to content from these figures on what still feels like a personal space.
The percentages for those who’ve talked about politics online in the last month are low too, ranging from a high of 12% for Green supporters to just 4% for Tory supporters and 2% of the undecideds. However, given GlobalWebIndex’s research took place before the full force of the TV debates came into play, along with the tension of the last few weeks of campaigning, one would hope these figures would rise by May.
For more information on the social networking habits of UK voters, as well as analysis of their broader attitudes and digital behaviours, you can download the full Voters in the UK Report from GlobalWebIndex.