Punch Communications

Punch Communications

April 09, 2010 07:00 ET

The UK General Election: A Month of Twitter and Chatter, or a Committed Online Relationship?

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - April 9, 2010) - With the clock ticking until one of the most controversial General Elections in history, the political parties have brought out the big guns in the shape of social media savvy, and all eyes are on twitter and Facebook as the battle-lines are drawn.

But consultants in social media have warned that turning to the internet isn't something that can be picked up and put down as a vote-winner, it has to be an ongoing commitment. Pete Goold, managing director of social media agency Punch Communications said that while it was natural to be inspired by Barack Obama's use of twitter during his run for Presidency, politicians should be cautious.

"This is a ground-breaking election for the UK because the tools being utilised this year have never been used before – back in 2005 twitter didn't exist and the idea of winning an election based on a successful internet campaign was unheard of.

"Those of us in technology PR watched the developments in the US with interest and the way that Obama and his team used twitter was just spectacular. However, from the moment that the 'We just made history' victory tweet was posted on November 5th 2008, the account was neglected until January 15th2009. That is one thing the UK parties must learn from, if they choose to establish relationships online they must be committed to continuing them beyond May 6th.

"Technology is playing a massive part in this election, with websites established for supporters to register their backing and iPhone apps to show a 'swingometer' as support veers between parties. But they also have to be prepared to take the rough with the smooth and accept that their empowering speeches and campaign collateral will be taken by Internet hackers who will take it, cut it, twist it, and turn it into something entirely different – who can forget the infamous Cassette Boy's take on Nick Griffin's Question Time appearance?" he said.

"But given the circumstances whereby the Digital Economy Bill was rushed through Parliament this week, some would question whether the parties are really as enamoured with the internet as they appear, or if they're using digital PR as a quick-hit. It would be a timely reminder to those concerned that what is written on the Internet remains on the Internet, so promises and intentions can't be chased away as easily, they can be referenced and re-referenced – something that might well be worth keeping at the forefront of the minds of party leaders as the date draws closer," he added.

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