‘Twitter can be crucial to connecting people at this General Election’

With the 2015 General Election just over 35 days away, Joanna Geary, Twitter’s head of UK news & government gartnerships, has told Marketing Week why she feels the platform can help generate voters this May.

The social media platform is confident it can make a difference, with its recent study of 3,000 Twitter users (18-34) finding that one in three respondents (34%) have changed their vote from one party to another based on something they have seen on Twitter.

The study also showed that 45% of Twitter users aged 18-34 have become interested in or joined a political or social cause that they learned about through Twitter, while 47% have reconsidered their views on a specific issue as a result of using Twitter.

With what is expected to be one of the tightest parliamentary races in recent history, Geary believes Twitter will play a pivotal role in deciding our next government.

Is Twitter crucial to the day-to-day activities of politicians in 2015?

Well, 78% of members of parliament  are now on the platform so there’s massive levels of adoption. We have well over 15 million active users now and we see this as more of a Twitter election than 2010 as the big moments will break on our platform. We know we will see this as we saw it for the Scottish referendum. There were 7 million tweets on its hashtag and we expect more this time around.

How effective can Tweets actually be? And will they translate into votes?

If you look at the Indian elections, there were nearly no active Indian politicians on the platform but Narenda Modi figured out how to engage with voters on Twitter and it helped him get elected. He’s now the second most followed politician behind Obama, who himself got elected in 2012 largely thanks to a pioneering social media strategy in the US.

In an era where people feel more disconnected from politicians than ever before, Twitter can be crucial in connecting people.

Politics has been famously dubbed ‘Showbiz for ugly people’ – how can politicians make their Twitter accounts stand out?

Authenticity matters and you must connect consistently with your constituency. If you read Boris Johnson’s tweets he has a distinct voice and does regular Q&As. Stella Creasy also has bags of personality too. People will figure you out if it isn’t coming from an authentic place.

How do you see this election playing out?

It’s hard to call out but it isn’t dissimilar to the Scottish Referendum as the outcome isn’t clear and there will be big moments talked about through Twitter, with the televised debates, over the coming weeks. The smaller parties – UKIP, SNP and the Greens – have been really experimental with their tweets and it is interesting to see. Our research shows that individual candidates that get tweeted about more generate more votes, so it’s up to the politicians to make every tweet count.

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