Tahmina Mannan

Few historical complaints pop up, quite as often, as the one where every generation thinks that they are better than the generation below. Remember when rock and roll danced its way into the Western world and all the old folk thought it was the siren of the devil himself? (I mean, clearly I’m not old enough to remember. But I did read about it…)

Every generation balks at whatever latest trend the younger lot have employed to help them stand out. Until recently and even today, social media and its uses are a bone of contention for those unable to fathom its purpose.

‘What do you mean millennials ‘chat’ to each other in 140 characters when they could be doing the same thing, without a character limit, face-to-face?’ For the Luddites among us, it’s an unbearable thought.

But bear it you must.

Social media, and the internet of course, have completely overhauled the way many of us live - and the landscape is not for turning back. One unlikely arena where it has had a serious impact is politics.

For a second let us consider the Tweeter-In-Chief: President Trump anyone?

However you feel about the Leader of the Free World – there’s no denying that his presence on Twitter-sphere is market-moving.

Literally.

One 140-character tweet from Trump has the power to affect billions – be it the stock market or the lives of ordinary humans.

Here in Blighty, the result of the UK General Election last week was a shocker on many levels, and its results are worth some serious fine-toothed analysis.

The incumbent Conservative party’s weaker-than-expected performance and Labour’s gains could be partly – note, I do say partly - explained by the savvy use of social media among Labour supporters that helped drive young, first-time voters.

After the snap election was called, Labour and the Liberal Democrat sent post after post on Facebook and Twitter, encouraging young voters to register, often providing direct links to the relevant page.

Of course, new registration figures are naturally skewed toward the under 25s. You tend to register when young. But it is the way in which this generation were called to action that is so noteworthy. 

In the run up to the election, Facebook was awash with political posts ranging from Conservative attack ads to Labour grass-roots propaganda.

Understanding that social is going to play a huge role, the Conservatives re-hired digital experts Craig Elder and Tom Edmonds, who were in charge of digital strategy and branding during the 2015 Tory campaign.

Labour piggy-backed off cool kids like grime music artists Stormzy and JME, who have a combined Twitter following of about 1.5 million and are firmly considered social media influencers.

And the birth of the hashtag #Grime4Corbyn was born.

As election day drew closer, Labour seriously ramped up its social media footprint. According to media analysts Social Bakers, ‘Jezza‘ upped his Twitter followers by a cool 90k in the space of six days (June 1-6). Not bad for a bloke who looks more comfortable being papped with a giant marrow.

Social media monitoring platform crowdtangle, owned by Facebook, told Bloomberg that over the seven days to June 9, the Conservative Facebook home page had 438,544 interactions. In comparison, the Labour home page had 1.1 million.

In short, Labour owned social media.

It understood just how important a channel it is to young voters, employed media that spoke straight to that age bracket, and also suggested that by using these platforms – that they cared about the young.

So, what can we learn from this? Yes social media is important to the younger generation; but perhaps more importantly, failing to utilise this type of channel effectively will no doubt negatively affect a business in the long-term.

And yes, this even applies to financial services. The younger generation will be the next generation of clients – be it in the form of a retail investor or a savings account holder, and failing to make sure your brand has a presence on channels that speak to young consumers is failing to understand today’s marketing and communications landscape.

 

*Headline references Scooby Doo, a popular cartoon show, for the ultra-sheltered among us…

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