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Social media twice as important as local media for election news

The following piece I penned for our weekly Digital Inspirational email at Teneo Blue Rubicon. Do sign up if you’d like such stories in your inbox every week.

Social media is the second most important source of election news for voters, and twice as important as local news outlets, according to new polling from Survation.

Asked where they receive most of their information about political parties during the election, 14% of voters picked social media, ahead of 7% for local media and second only – albeit by a large margin – to national media at 61%.

As you might expect, the reliance on social media is higher amongst younger voters (24% of 18-34 year olds have it as their main source) and lowest amongst the oldest (8% for those aged 55+). The importance of social media derives in part from just how widespread it is, with just under two-thirds (63%) saying they use it, including as many as 45% of those aged 55+.

In good news for Labour, 44% recall having seen Labour messages on social media, compared to 40% for the Conservatives, 23% for the Liberal Democrats and just 14% for Ukip. But the real power of social media campaigning, however, is the ability to target specific messages at swing voters in swing seats, so the levels of overall recall are not the only criteria by which to judge the campaigns. And amongst the 55+ – a key high turnout group for the Conservatives – it is the Tories who most people recall having seen messages from. When the votes are counted and the lessons start being learnt, that’s likely to be the more significant figure than overall reach.