When Theresa May called the snap election, Jeremy Corbyn knew he had a lot of work to do to at least ensure his party were not subject to a landslide defeat. The polls had Labour in a terrible state, and many of his own party wanted Corbyn to resign.
There wasn’t a lot of time to put together a strategy for Labour – it seemed as if there wasn’t a lot they could do to stand a chance, but Corbyn strategically targeted the young population, encouraging those who had not voted before to have their say, and vote for a UK ‘for the many, not the few’. He predominantly did this via the use of Social Media and Influencer Marketing – somewhat untouched territory in politics – whether it was simply a promoted Labour campaign video, or being seen with public figures that the younger generation could relate to. Corbyn also opted to headline his campaign with ‘free University’ – obviously another attractive thing for young people who may have been put off further education after the Conservatives oversaw a price hike in tuition fees from £3,000 per year to £9,000 per year.
It worked. The young turnout in the recent election has been described as ‘remarkable’. The overall turnout out in Wales this year was 68.6%, up from 65.6% in 2015. Official figures showing the turnout broken down by age group will not be published until next week – but estimates by the NUS have 18-25-year-old turnout at 72% – so above the national average. What we do know is that around two-thirds of those aged 18-24 voted Labour and more than half of those aged 25-34 voted Labour. We also know that almost 250,000 young people registered to vote ahead of the deadline for Thursday’s election, up from 137,400 on the last day of registrations in 2015. A YouGov poll estimates that voters aged between 18 and 29 voted about 63% for Labour and 22% for the Conservatives, having polled more than 50,000 people online since election day.
These figures themselves highlight Labour’s success in getting more young people on their side.
The image above shows how Labour have the youth vote – and from a long-term point of view, that stands them in extremely good stead moving forward. When this election was called, many predicted the Labour party to be all but wiped out – but Corbyn gave encouragement to the young people and gave them a reason to vote – he expressed his vision through extremely effective marketing methods that will have made politicians globally take notice.
An example of Labour’s Social Media Marketing
In general, whilst the Conservatives took the scaremongering approach to their marketing campaign, Labour focussed much more on positivity and encouraging people who previously did not vote, to vote. Take a look at the campaign below, which was then promoted across Social Media channels.
Jag Singh, the founder of MessageSpace, which buys social media, the internet and print advertising and provided services to the Conservative campaign, confirmed the Tories spent less money on Facebook ads rallying their own supporters than targeting ads at soft Labour voters.
Singh said: “That [tactic] was different to any other election I have been on, where you normally spend more money making sure your vote goes out.”
By contrast, on polling day Labour spent considerable money promoting its hashtag #forthemany on Twitter. Twitter is considered Labour’s online stronghold and while buying the rights to promote a single hashtag can cost as much as £50,000, the expense may have been worth it to rally the younger vote, which appears to have played a significant role in Labour’s performance.
“Labour had a positive, hopeful message,” Singh said, adding that a similar strategy was used by the French president, Emmanuel Macron, the former US president Barack Obama, “and even with Trump”.
“It’s about building a movement, and social media can provide the glue for people to bound together. If your strategy is to poke holes in the other side you don’t evoke that emotion of togetherness which is an important factor in getting people to vote.”
Kenningham added: “There has been repeated talk about getting young people out to vote, but clearly this time Labour’s social media strategy worked. It energised people and got the base out.
“[The leftwing group] Momentum were pushing out slick attack ads which allowed the Labour party to stay above the fray and the Tories didn’t have the equivalent third-party campaigning group in the rightwing space. That was really important for attracting floating voters [who were] not engaging with parties.”
In conclusion, Corbyn and Labour’s campaign was a triumph for influencer marketing and positivity. It will be interesting to see if the Conservatives learn from this and adapt their strategy in the next election. Just take a look at the video below for an example of influencer marketing undertaken by Corbyn ‘When JME Met Jeremy Corbyn’ – there’s no doubt in my mind that things like this encouraged more young people to vote and when they did vote, voted Labour.