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March 5, 2019updated 06 Mar 2019 12:40pm

The Independent Group’s social media strategy is engaging voters

By Ellen Daniel

Despite being formed only 15 days ago and having just 11 members, the Independent Group is making waves both on and offline.

The pro-EU group, formed last month after MPs from Labour and the Conservatives left their respective parties due to dissatisfaction over Brexit policies.

Although their long-term impact on the outcome of Brexit remains to be seen, their social-first campaign appears to be resonating well with digital natives.

With the social media efforts of the Conservative and Labour parties often labelled out-of-touch, the Independent Group’s social media strategy has already gained them a loyal following.

As it stands, The Independent Group has 198K followers on Twitter, with Labour having 657k and the Conservatives having 365k. The Independent Group’s social media presence, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube accounts has a total of 202k followers.

Although the numbers may be smaller, the group has received significantly more positive social media engagements since it formed, and is already halfway to matching the Conservatives for Twitter followers.

The Independent Group’s social media in data

Social media analysis by marketing technology company 4C Insights reveals that The Independent Group is seeing good results, with 56% of all social media engagements on Facebook and Twitter being positive.

Measured between 18th February and 26th February 2019 across Facebook and Twitter proportionally, The Independent Group had significantly more positive engagements than The Labour Party and The Conservative Party over the same period, which had 49% and 45% respectively.

This is despite Independent Group member Angela Smith attracting negative attention just hours after the group’s formation over her comments appearing to refer to people from a BAME background as having a “funny tinge”.

The Independent Group was also the only party to increase the number of engagements. This covers mentions, retweets, comments and post likes using official Facebook pages and Twitter handles, as well as related keywords and hashtags. Over this period, the organisation saw a climb of 13.8%. Both of the established parties suffered drops in engagement of more than 23%.

The Independent Group’s social media strategy appears to be significantly different to the two largest parties, focusing on delivering short, captioned videos, which have seen high levels of engagement.

Notably, the Independent Group has more followers than pro-Labour political organisation Momentum, known for its innovative social media strategy for engaging young voters, suggesting that the group has managed to capture the interest of this young demographic.

Aaron Goldman, CMO, 4C Insights believes that the engagement The Independent Group has had online demonstrates the need for digital-first campaigning for political parties:

“The success The Independent Group is enjoying in the digital sphere is a reflection of the sound, social-first awareness campaign the nascent party has been running to date. A simple as it sounds, sharing glimpses into the meetings being held – such as the famous Nando’s Twitter pic – are clever devices to paint a picture of a tightly knit team that can move fast and stay relevant.”

However, he believes that engaging with the younger generation will not necessarily lead to winning  an election:

“Of course, no one channel operating in isolation can change mindsets. Social and traditional political marketing will need to go hand in hand. However, to engage with the younger generations, and inspire them to vote and engage with politics, social should be at the core of everything they do. Whether they win an election or not, The Independent Group has already proved a point.”