In 1992 The Sun took credit for the Tory election win. The Sun and all the nationals can’t make the same claim this time around and indeed will never be able to make that claim again.
The election marked a change in the way the electorate receives its information. A growing proportion of voters no longer make their decisions based on the traditional media – and this will only grow. The very idea of getting information from a product made out of trees, transported to every corner of the country and then it is still 12 hours out of date just seems so alien. And when it is put like that, it seems madness in this age of instant updates. The young don’t read newspapers like their parents and grandparents. They have grown to voting age knowing that you can get news at the touch of a button and for free. News is consumed in soundbites on the go rather than via leisurely reads at the breakfast table. Opinions are formed on the bus, in the bar or in bed with the flick of a screen.
Jeremy Corbyn’s team knew this. They would never sway the establishment and it wasn’t even worth trying. They could only rely on The Guardian and Mirror and this was shaky at the start. So tap into the electorate directly – on the bus, in the bar and in bed. This had been tested with the growth of the party membership – it just needed to be scaled up for the nation.
Look across the Atlantic at Trump’s victory and there are many similarities. Trump, the underdog and outsider, bypassed the mainstream media, spoke directly to his supporters online and used online advertising like never seen before. The Corbyn team won’t like the comparisons but the similarities are there to be seen. The US figures speak for themselves:
Now look at the Corbyn campaign stats:
Of course, you can always argue there are statistics, damn statistics and lies – but it really does seem we’ve reached a tipping in terms of the influence social media has on elections. There is no doubt we are almost at the stage when the difference between a good social media campaign and bad social media campaign will decide the result. Any politician who ignores this does so at their own peril.