Analogue politicians in a digital era?
As the Conservative leadership campaign begins, we look at the early winners on the web.
By Tom Flynn
As a politician in the digital era, your online presence matters as much as your media profile. In a close race, a slick, effective, attention-grabbing digital campaign can mean the difference between winning and losing.
With the Conservative leadership race gathering pace, the ten declared campaigns (at the time of writing, after Grant Shapps dropped out earlier today…) vary hugely in the quality of their online presence and can probably be put into three categories – those who have clearly been planning this for a long time, those who are trying too hard to look like they haven’t been planning this for a long time and those who thought they had a few more months to prepare. I won’t speculate about which campaigns are in each category, and I expect those who make the final stages to raise their game significantly, but here are my digital winners and losers so far:
With a well-produced campaign video (marked down for lacking embedded subtitles for social media), a slick Nationbuilder landing page and the most mentions on Twitter of any candidate over the past seven days (476,000), the former Chancellor is off to a flying start.
A solid launch video, a polished Wordpress website and a brand that nods to her role on the world stage (is there a hint of the Ukrainian flag about her blue and yellow colour scheme?) – the Foreign Secretary is off to a good start, but her late entry to the race means she is still lagging on social media mentions (only 80,000 on Twitter in the past week).
A special mention for the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee who (despite a website and social media campaign that suggests a last-minute decision to enter the race) managed to bag the coveted banner advertising spots on ConservativeHome, a widely-read news and opinion site favoured by members, activists and politicians of the governing party.
Video matters in political social media, so having to edit and re-launch on day one after a series of gaffes (the inclusion of convicted murderer Oscar Pistorius and a request for removal from two-times gold medallist Jonnie Peacock) means the Trade Policy minister makes the losers list.
The former Health Secretary launched with a well-designed website but, without a video or any branded social media graphics to stir his core supporters into action, has underperformed as a result. With only 53,000 Twitter mentions so far, his campaign has some work to do to get out of the chasing pack.
The handheld launch video and the cries of “who?” have somewhat derailed the Gillingham & Rainham MP’s first day in the race. With a tiny 1,514 Twitter mentions so far, Chishti is a long way behind his nearest rival and is not getting the ‘outsider’ traction he presumably sought.