Online mobilisation and persuasion in the 2015 campaign
Start date: 13 July 2015
This paper explores the use social media, alongside other ‘mundane’ internet tools such as email, by UK political parties for campaigning purposes during the 2015 general election. With particular focus on mobilisation and persuasion, we examine some of the continuities and changes that 2015 brought in terms of the online campaign. Firstly, we document party attempts at gamification and micro rewards as a means of mobilizing supporters, including how the parties emulated campaigning groups such as Avaaz and 38 degrees in terms of fundraising through email. Then – through data provided by SoTrender – we examine how the parties used social media in 2015 to mobilise and persuade, including how much content they created across the major platforms, and what sorts of interaction it prompted. As with previous elections, we find that levels of activity are not necessarily related to electoral success.
Drawing upon a commissioned representative survey performed by Opinium research during March 2015, we begin to unpack the reasons for this. We argue that the parties largely failed to harness the enthusiasm of all but the most ardent supporters, and tended to be preaching to the converted. But our survey also finds some promising relationships between political participation and party strategy. Most notably, we find that that if parties can create content that is worth sharing, then they can be a powerful catalyst to political participation.