Opinion: what happened to the Lib Dem use of Social Media?

Before and during the election there was a great deal of talk about the Lib Dem use of social media as a way of getting our message across cheaply and effectively. Since then though the Party seems too place very little importance on social media with the result that an important and effective way of communicating with our members and supporters is being ignored.

Look at the three main Social media outlets, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

On Facebook the Lib Dems official Page has 97,000 fans but is rarely updated – there have been just 5 updates since the beginning of July. Nick Clegg has 4,800 Friends on Facebook but nothing has been posted since 18 May.

On Twitter Nick has 49,000 followers but the last Tweet was June 11 with only 4 Tweets since the election. Ironically, according to Iain Dale it appears that Nick has the second largest number of followers of a politician on Twitter, after Boris Johnson. The Party Twitter account has 24,000 followers and does tweet a bit more often – 20 tweets since 1st July.

On YouTube where 3100 people are subscribed to the Lib Dem Channel there seem to have been no videos put up since the election.

If ever there was a time when we need to get out our message it is now. Not only do we have the many Liberal achievements of the Coalition to celebrate but Labour is going in for wholesale lies and smears about us. It is vital that we use every opportunity to counter these. Social Media offers a great way to engage members and supporters. I know from my own experience running a Facebook Page ‘Vote Clegg, Get Clegg’ with 7,600 fans that Lib Dem supporters are eager to hear about us and engage in discussion.

People love to comment and click through to interesting articles with a real sense of engagement. I posted a link to the piece in the Daily Mail about Nick taking a much more aggressive approach to someone talking about the Coalition alleged attack on the poor and within 24 hours 400 people had clicked on to it.

We all know that resources are a problems for the Party at the moment but keeping a more active social media presence need not take much time , will help us explain to our supporters what we are doing and will show that we are challenging Labour’s lies.

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30 Comments

  • Completly agree theres a distinct lack of support from the top.

    The Libdem wall is very active with Labour supporters constantley comming across with abuse lies and half truths . Its got to the stage were regular members have left and on several ocations I have emailed central office asking if they could set up a moderator system so we can remove people who are to abusive. We have one Labour supporter in particular who constantley refers to us as one step away from been paedophiles.

    Central office also needs to keep a close eye on what is been disused as on more than one occasion a policy has been announced without a defensive line been prepared were the regulars have quickly researched the topic and blown the attacks out of the water.

    A case in point, when the the 6 billion in cuts were announced and a hospital near Newcastle was prevented from been built the attacks came, it took less than an hour for us to discover that the New hospital had only just received conformation of funding . But also there was a 30,000 petition to stop them from closing 3 hospitals to make way for it. not only that but the local Labour MP had resigned his position in the Health department because of it.

  • Good call!

    I have to say, even the main party website (and Nick Clegg’s website) seem to have been updated only very superficially since the election. Before even starting on the social media stuff – at least such basics as making sure that the main website looks dynamic would be a good idea!

    In the meantime, LibDem Voice really seems to be the major Liberal Democrat medium on the web, and le’t be happy that it exists..
    It would be essential, however, to make the Party’s *official* internet presence look professional and active.

    If there is a website and various social media accounts, they HAVE to be kept up to date and interesting – ask anybody who has to take care of an institutional website which is actually supposed to attract customers. Nothing (even not using the web at all!) is worse than being associated with an internet site/platform which isn’t up to scratch.

    Of course, ideally, all LibDem outlets, especially the social media ones, should be trumpeting LibDem successes in government 24/7…. and what do we see? Pretty much nothing. That’s both worrying and disappointing.

  • I’m thinking Nick might have been a tad too busy since May to update his Facebook….!

  • Grammar Police 24th Aug '10 - 1:43pm

    I also think that there are probably fewer staff now there’s less short money . . .

  • Agree very much with the thrust of this article. I’m sure it is about resources but it is also about priorities. The Labour Party twitter feed has been no more active than the Lib Dem one (last tweet 9th June). The only major party that is active is the Conservatives. But the Green Party twitter feed is much more active, with something like 20 tweets in the last week (which is pretty typical). So I’d guess that is as much about a drive to get the message out. For the Lib Dems the challenge at the moment is which message to get out and to what extent to push the parts of the Lib Dem agenda that don’t sit well with the Coalition agenda.

  • I agree, an online presence that is not updated is actually worse than no presence at all!
    This make us look like we only care about our supporters at election time.

  • I’m optimistic the party will start to do better. They advertised for a new internet person recently. Presumably this is something they are/will be taking over and sorting out.

  • Paul Wild – Very good points, but tempted to make jokes about how activists dispelling lies on the fb page is a good example of big society. 😉

  • Agreed.

    Grammar Police – I accept what you say, but it takes only moments to update your status, I’m sure they have enough staff to spare.

  • One should concede that the LibDem press office seems to be tweeting a bit more frequently…

    http://twitter.com/libdempress

    And it even got some actual press today!

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jameskirkup/100051435/spendaholic-warmongers-lib-dems-vs-labour-gets-nastier/

    However, it would be good if the main LibDem account (which is different from the one I linked above) were a bit more active, too.

  • Good article. And with youth unemployment high and people crying out to get experience, somebody should appoint an intern to get busy and start posting things left, right and centre 😉

  • Jenny Stratton 24th Aug '10 - 5:37pm

    I agree with gist of all this. I looked earlier today at the Liberal Democrat page and there has been one update in August and the page has over 97,000 followers. It doesn’t take an internet expert to update these pages, it needs somebody who knows what the issues are and understands the way to interact with people on these pages. Simon’s Vote Clegg Get Clegg page is the right idea.

  • Simon McGrath 24th Aug '10 - 7:06pm

    @Paul – I agree. It is possible (though tedious and time consuming ) for a Page Owner to bar someone and it sounds like this chap should be barred. I also agree that we have to get much better at rebutting attacks on us ( this goes beyond just Social media).
    @Alex M, interesting about the Labour Party and Greens. Worrying that the Greens are so active when they will clearly be a destination for some of our unhappy people.
    @Coyote – I was just thinking that this could be a job for an intern. I agree!
    @Alix Interesting point about Twitter. At the very least when Nick is on TV or having a speech televised on the No10 website he could give notice it is going to happen.
    @Nigel, Louise and Jenny, thanks very much.

    There was an interesting example of how the Party could use social media to get our message out at the weekend. The Observer ran a story that the FCO was stopping producing its Annual Report on Human Rights. This caused a lot of concern to LDs and turned out not to be true. Using FB and Twitter we could have got this message out to over 100,000 people.
    If anyone would like to join my FB Page here is a link:
    http://www.facebook.com/LibDemLife

  • @Paul Ankers I agree but trying to get through to anyone is hopeless you try and send an email to head office and you get an automated response thanking you but saying that we will not be able to respond!!!!

    I joined the Act site a few months back and was shocked to discover that no one had started up West Midlands group (Only the second largest population in the country) so I set one up sent an email to the west Midlands Party and my local group asking if they could send a link to all WestMid LibDems so we have a central hub to call on support. Sent it to the communications and IT officer….no response!!!!!

  • Andrew Suffield 25th Aug '10 - 7:48am

    I’m sure it is about resources

    Remember that the party office has had to cut back, since they now get neither short money nor the resources of the government. There’s probably a lot of things like this which have been dropped on the floor because of limited manpower and “it’s not important enough”.

  • My first point of contact before the election with the lib dems was the Lib Dem facebook page, without It I wouldnt have made contact with the party, nor i believe joined the party, and being active (about to set off in 20 mins, to go deliver some leaflets for sheff by election)

    One thing i did notice, That of the 3 main parties, since the election the Lib dem page has a post with the most likes, (the post about nick doing PMQ’s) So there still plenty of visitors there, just the atmosphere of the “just others” section isnt exactly friendly, with the dozen or so people, who constantly abuse, attack us on there.

  • Following on from the point made by @Jif Ro, the other thing to consider is who is best reached through which medium.

    Facebook would appear to have emerged as the medium through which many people – particularly younger people – will first look for information, perhaps more so than through conventional websites. Twitter on the other hand feels more metropolitan and/or activitist oriented. You aren’t going to reach significant chunks of the uncommitted population that way.

    Given that recent statistics on how people allocate their time across different media suggested that television/radio etc are losing ground to newer social media, particularly among younger people, it would seem short sighted if anyone were to conclude they aren’t a priority.

  • I agree very much with this post. The party needs to be getting info out to the public and to members & activists. I support the Coalition, what it is trying to achieve and the Lib Dem input into it – but I need solid, hard facts to back that up in conversations I have and campaigning I do.

  • Well,those of us in the media realised as soon as the Coalition began that there would be a communication overload imposed initially by Labour whingers and libellers, and then sucking in the marginals, which LibDems would need to cope with as effectively as possible .
    I am sure this message was taken to heart by Cowley Street., but as usual , it’s a case of how to allocate scarce resources. It seems as if the Communications team might need beefing up a bit.

  • The other issue on this is the sites and pages we do have need to be defended, the issue we find on the LibDem facebook page is the swarms of Labour supporters who come across and post up anti LibDem comments or comments that could be misread as a possible disgruntled LibDem supporter to the casual viewer.

    In the last 24hrs we have had 48 new posts (with accompanied replies) out of them only 11 come from LibDems..

  • Gareth Hartwell 10th May '11 - 3:40pm

    Hi

    My local party does practically nothing on social media at present which may be one of the reasons we are struggling to get our message across to younger voters (ie under 40s!)

    Where’s the best place for advice on what to focus on and how to get started?

    Thanks

    Gareth (Bookham in Mole Valley)

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