Mark Zuckerberg can deny it all he wants. The fact remains that Facebook and in extension social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, etc.) had a big role to play in some of the biggest election results that unfolded recently.
The importance and effect of social media in elections has been a matter for study for some time now. In 2012, one study suggested that Facebook feeds did have a visible impact on voting patterns. Voters between the age group of 18 to 24 year were most affected by social media feeds. Another study discovered that 41 percent of voters between 15 and 25 years had at some point participated in some sort of online political debate and activity. The active social media engagers were also seen as most likely to go out and vote doing the election date.
Recognizing the impact of social media marketing on elections, candidates are also increasing their ad spending funds on social networks.
Let us take a look at some of the top election results and how social media impacted them:
UK General Election 2017 – In April 2017, when UK Prime Minister Teresa May shocked the world by announcing early general elections, she knew exactly what she had to do next. May quietly hired the same very successful digital marketing team that David Cameron had worked with just two years back.
The importance of social media marketing had been recognized quite early on by the Conservative party for the Tories had reported spent over £1.2 million on social media advertising in 2015, as against the merger sun of £16,500 spent by the Labour party. This time, however the Labour Party upped the game and put in over a million pounds to counter the Conservative Party’s social media marketing onslaught.
Teresa May's dismay at her inability to secure majority stems from the fact that she did not foresee how the same social media that made her popular could also do the same for her opponent.
For those not following the UK general elections that closely, it might come as a surprise that Jeremy Corbyn was a social media superstar of his own rights. He was very popular with the UK youth who rallied hard for the success of his campaign primarily across Facebook and Twitter. And although, he could not get majority in the house, the fact that the UK General Election in 2017 almost ruined the Conservative Party cannot be denied.
It is interesting to note that more than half of Britain's population uses Facebook and around one out of every five British citizens use Twitter.
US Presidential Election 2016 – From 2008 onwards, all US Presidential candidates have been very active on social media. In fact, unlike other candidates Hillary Clinton even ran Instagram and Snapchat campaigns to reach a wider audience when most others were focusing on Facebook and Twitter alone.
Twitter had a big role to play in the 2016 US presidential election. And it has none other than President Donald Trump to thank for it. The power of social media is evident from how tweets coupled with other major factors helped him win the election. And even though Twitter co-founder Ev Williams went on record to quote – "if Twitter was responsible for President Trump's win, he was sorry," he cannot deny that President Trump is in many ways responsible for adding to the growing follower base of Twitter.
Twitter had been President Trump's marketing weapon of choice because it offered him the opportunity of two-way direct communication with his voters. Since, most of his tweets were crafted by him and not by his staffers, it made it easier for his voters to identify with him and see him as a transparent candidate finally winning him the election against the tough opponent - Hillary Clinton.
Not just elections, social media marketing has had its effect on EU Referendum as well. On post analysis of the situation, it is deciphered that social media Brexit supporters outdid their rivals online many times over. They were more active and vocal about their preference, broadcasted their reasons across all social media platforms and gathered extensive support at the grassroot level.
Social media marketing has an impact in any major world event these days and the faster we learn to embrace it, the sooner we will know how to leverage this medium for the success of our own business. If you are looking for a social media marketing company in Dubai