The general election fever is abating and the political parties now turning their attention to wrangling over who will control the UK Parliament, but for analysts of online marketing there remains an important question – was this truly the “digital election” many believed it would be.
Because more people now use the internet, search for news stories via the likes of Google and share their thoughts via social networking sites like Twitter than ever before, the announcement of the 2010 election caused a flurry of excitement among online marketing experts, who foresaw MPs and candidates seeking to reach out to voters digitally.
The three main parties all set up their own dedicated campaign websites and engaged teams of volunteers to keep them up to date with SEO-oriented messages. Ministers and their opposite numbers posted YouTube videos in the hope of ensnaring the younger generation. And many of the more tech-savvy politicians even posted regular updates on Twitter revealing their thoughts about the non-stop campaigning and other developments.
During the election YouGov polled voters and found that some 57 per cent of them had used the internet to seek out or receive information about the campaign. Researchers also found that almost a quarter of 18-24 year-olds were engaged with the election online, discussing developments and holding discussions via Facebook and Twitter.
The online marketing industry has received a major boost thanks to all of these phenomena, although it still remains to be seen whether online marketing had any significant effect on the outcome of the election. The TV debates dominated election news for much of the campaign, for instance, although they in turn fed into online discussions and dissections.