With so much of the electorate undecided in 2015, the spotlight rightly falls on how party communications has failed to excite, inspire and drive votes.
Commentators were quick to dub Thursday’s poll as the first social media election. But of course, it was never going to live up to this hype. What it should have been was the first integrated communications election where impressions and conversations work hand in hand to drive a message and drive votes.
And our research with Bilendi has shown that the public are consuming news about the election in an integrated and multi-channel way. In fact, the average member of the public has heard about the election in 3 different ways.
TV news was still the most effective route in reaching the country, with over half (55%) of voters having seen any communication or discussion about the election in this way. 36% of the population have had a leaflet from a political party, a third (32%) tuned into one of the leaders’ debates and 19% have heard about the election through social media.
And as for the ground war, much was made of Labour’s plans for conversations around the country. In the end, 19% of those canvassed face to face are strongly Labour (with another 9% tending to favour the party). This compares to just 14% of those canvassed saying they are strongly Tory and 4% strongly Liberal Democrat.
But within this, there are vast levels of difference in terms of what has worked and what hasn’t worked.
For example, our research also demonstrated that undecided voters are less likely to be found on social media (just 11% who have heard about the election through social media are undecided, compared to 16% who have seen political parties’ direct marketing).
Does this mean that social media users have already made up their mind? Or does it indicate that party direct mail (which is often run to varying degrees of aptitude by local candidates) is less effective at persuading people to vote?
Political parties themselves will need to do more work to identify their own strengths and weaknesses, but clearly the levels of undecided voters so close to polling day shows that this election campaign has not been a triumph for integrated communications and for strategic planning.