Monday, August 31, 2009

Westminter Hour Debate on Internet Politics

Last night I took part in a seven minute long discussion on the Westminster Hour with Alex Smith of LabourList about internet strategies in the runup to the election. A main point I made towards the end of the debate was that email is far more important than blogs, Twitter and Facebook in a party's internet strategy. If I were a parliamentary candidate now, yes I would use all aspects of the new media in my campaign, but I would spend as much time as possible garnering constituents' email addresses and communicating with them regularly via that means rather than thinking that twittering or blogging was the be all and end all.


Tom Mein said...

Surely e-mail is a two way conversation whereas "twittering" is a monologue, therefore MPs would have to listen to what their constituants say?
Will that ever happen?

Chris Paul said...

Blogging and tweeting would of course be one means of collecting those precious email addies.

Chris Paul said...

On the tomandclaire point ... twittering and blogging can be 2-way, multi-way exercises. Many-to-many.

Martin S said...

Sort of like: "I hear what you say?" which is a technique taught to Labour politicians. It roughly translates to: "Shut up!"

Mike Cartwright said...

Surely the various technologies are best combined as opposed to being considered seperate and distinct?

For example, when a new blog is posted an email could be sent to mailing list subscribers advising as such.

Of course ultimately technologies can be combined literally, by having Twitter update your status in Facebook as well as including your Facebook and Twitter status on your blog.

Given the minimal amount of time involved maintaining these things, it's surely worth using all of them to full advantage.
Now, I really must crack on and write a blog, having not done so for weeks...oops, did I just defeat my own argument?

dehautenbas said...

Keep politicians' spam out of my inbox, please.

Administrator said...

100% agreed!

Raedwald said...

Spam email from candidates would surely just go into the bin along with the Viagra spam and invitations to send your bank details to a man in Lagos.

And Spam email isn't a two-way conversation if sent from an addy that bounces back replies - it's just more political drek in 'talk' rather than 'listen' mode.

I can see most candidates getting this horribly wrong, and angering even more voters to add to the simmering majority out there already.

Dave B said...

Liam Maxwell produced a very interesting pamplet on Mr Obama's use of the internet during his election campaign, "How the internet took Obama back to the 1950s".

Stronghold Barricades said...

Spam filters are good too Iain

Anonymous said...


Wrong! Tory Party emails aren't two way, they are all no reply emails, which is why having wanted to ask a question about some of the stuff sent to me and being unable to I unsubscribed from the mails and the party

True Belle said...

I have seen it all now this evening, not only has Eric Pickles just emailed the Conservative history lesson to down load, but also a request for good Tory souls to enter a tee shirt competition in order to think up a suitable Tory slogan/logo or image to be printed!

Eric might like my offering;

'Small government, yes we are really here.

Tory bum and boost.

True Tory Exponential curves ,

Tweet ,tweet Tories.

Pickles has set a great challenge, a gimmick, but nice fresh ideas.

I hope the Tories LISTEN hard to the public and not just their paid up members though!

Elliot Kane said...

I have to say, I completely disagree. What you are talking about doing is basically spamming people, which nobody likes. At best, most of your missives will be ignored and at worst they'll irritate. It's the electronic equivalent of leaflets through the door - most people just don't read them (I DO, but I'm a masochist).

People signed up to a mailing list are already (presumably) onside anyway - so that's nearly pointless, too.

Politics is not like, say, a recording artist trying to sell a product. There's a clear reason there for sending out unreplyable (Yeah, I don't think it's a word, but it should be! :D) information.

Blogs, by contrast, are interactive and allow for discussion/conversation, as do Facebook, MySpace, etc. The conversations themselves will attract new people and new interest and may result in more votes.

A good internet strategy, to me, emphasises dialogue WITH people, over preaching AT people.

The people you are aiming at reaching are not the great majority of voters, after all. Many and perhaps most people auto-vote and if they don't vote for the same party every time it's because they are protesting about some effect policy has had on their lives. Even there, a lot of them simply won't vote rather than vote against 'their' party. No amount of policy making will change their votes for a second, because they vote by what they BELIEVE.

The people you need to convince are the floating voters - the minority of people who definitely WILL vote, but who can be convinced by any party if they hear enough that they like. People like that seek.

Sorry for the long post :)

Quietzapple said...

You may be sure that Ashcroft's people, rather than Cameron's Pickles, are the authors of the Tory emails.

People like attention, on the whole, and parties want "their folk" to feel that they are part of the family.

Ashcroft has spent a great deal of money creating this illusion, and Pickles is a cosy part of theirs.

Tweets can converse, an @ in front of the recipient's id does that.

Of course the visual is to the written word as 10 is to one, and the most successful propaganda have been the visual traducements of Gordon Brown, about as dishonest as they come, but when did tories and imaginary libertarians ever get honest?

Among the evidence in favour of the importance of visual propaganda is the price it is rumoured someone paid for the only photo of Cameron and Osborne in their Bullingdon Club gear.Someone thinks that is a weak link in their PR mask . . .