Labour has created its own digital tool called Promote to put targeted social media marketing at the heart of its general election campaign.
Promote is linked with Labour’s voter database and will enable the party to identify specific people in a constituency for candidates to target a message to, its joint national elections coordinator Andrew Gwynne told the Guardian.
He cited so-called Waspi women – those born in the 1950s and opposed to changes to the state pension scheme – as an example of the kind of demographic the tool could identify. “We can now, using Promote, identity the Waspi woman in a particular constituency and we can let them know what Labour’s policies are."
In the interview, Gwynne indicated that social media marketing – particularly on Facebook rather than the “echo-chamber” of Twitter – will play a prominent role in Labour’s campaign.
“One of the things that we’ve learned, particularly from Sadiq Khan’s campaign in London for the mayoralty, is that we can now use social media in a very sophisticated way, targeting the people that we want to reach out to with certain messages, certain policy announcements.
“This is probably the first election where social media will probably have a significant impact”.
That comment may raise eyebrows given that social media advertising was already a key feature of the last general election – for one party at least.
The Conservatives invested £1.2m in Facebook advertising in the year leading up to the last general election in May 2015, while Labour spent just £16,000 on the social media platform, according to the Electoral Commission.
As Edelman’s Will Walden and Lucy Thomas wrote in The Drum this week: “[The Conservatives’] secret weapon in 2015 was to find and target the so-called ‘shy Tories’, producing thousands of versions of digital ads, tweaked to their audience, hammering home the message of stability v chaos.”
There is little doubt that social media will be a key battleground this time around. According to Bloomberg, the digital masterminds behind the Tory's 2015 social strategy, Craig Elder and Tom Edmonds, have been rehired by the party to work on this year’s campaign, once again under the auspices of political strategy supremo Lynton Crosby.