Labour, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats failing to effectively use digital channels to engage voters, research discovers
Major UK political parties are failing to successfully use digital media, new research has discovered. Ahead of local elections set to take place across the UK this week, research conducted by CheethamBellJWT in Manchester has discovered that Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats are each failing to use digital channels to reach voters. The Digital MOT report, discovered that none of the party websites were ranked before the fourth page of Google for when searching for the term ‘local election’ while across there had been only 68 Facebook updates and 79 tweets across all three parties accounts during April. With growth of smartphone usage to go online, it was also found that neither Labour or the Liberal Democrats website were mobile optimised and that both party websites also failed to meet Disability Discrimination Guidelines, with not all articles accessible to visually impaired voters. Some pages also featured 12 accessibility errors in total. David Bell, chief executive of CBJWT, commented: “We were genuinely shocked at the lack of understanding and strategy this digital MOT has revealed among the major political parties. The rest of the world is embracing the digital age but politicians are clinging to the same old clumsy, environmentally unfriendly and scattergun electioneering approach - door drops, newspaper inserts, posters etc. With political party funding under scrutiny, politicians have to look to digital media as a much more cost effective and targeted way to reach voters, particularly the digitally savvy e-lectorate, who are far more likely to engage with a candidate on Facebook or Google them than to read a leaflet that comes through the door with a handful of pizza menus.” The research was able to find some positives from the websites, with the Liberal Democrats earning praise for more regular blogs, updates and reader interactions, with the Conservatives having a less active blog roll, and Labour not offering one at all. However Labour’s website was described as ‘easy to use’, while also having a clear strategy and purpose and good links to social media. The conservatives video content, on both its own website and on its YouTube channel, were also highlighted positively.