The results are in Nick Smith was elected as MP in Blaenau Gwent for Labour. As you will have seen in the media this was against the tide of Labour loses. The previous election saw a loss by 2,500 votes and this time a majority of 10,516 votes. The swing to Labour was 29.2%, a success by any standards.
So how was it done?
The key point in any communication and political campaigns is who get the message over in the simplest way possible. The art of cutting through the noise from other parties, masses of media coverage and voters who maybe switched off, is a huge challenge.
The starting point is the message, simple and give the voter a reason to vote, sounds easy but in reality very difficult to do. There are lots of ways of achieving this and as many commentators have said the role of social media is important.
Nationally, there were acres of newsprint, hours of TV, masses of radio and yet millions of people who had not made up their mind until the day of the election. In Blaenau Gwent the campaign used lots of traditional tactics, leaflets and connecting with small groups in meetings, in public events, by walking the streets and door knocking. Visibility of campaign material such as traditional posters and garden stakes as a reminder was important. It also created momentum but the number of posters was much lower than the final vote.
Social media connected via Facebook with 744 friends. That is creates a ripple effect as their friends will see the updates and comments. That increases the coverage and multiplies the effect. These friends then share the links, the stories, the photos and videos.
Given that there are a defined number of voters. Every friend that votes takes their vote from the opposition. This doubles the impact of that vote. So of the friends, 700 voted, that is a 1,400 swing and that in political marketing is huge.
The key here is to engage with the friends. That is critical as it increases the turnout of the vote. In political marketing the threat is from the other candidates but also from the sofa, just not bothering to turn out to vote
The connections into Twitter and Utube really worked well. It integrated the campaign and gave it life. This enabled short, quick updates and showed current activities. It involves people so they can feel part of what is going on even if they are not there. It is the social interest that increases engagement.