Thursday, March 18, 2010

The WOM election?

Missed the original article by Douglas Alexander in the Guardian, but he argues that 2010 will be the word of mouth election, all about people talking politics to one another and convincing friends etc to vote, perhaps, and further vote for a particualr party. it is a theory, though his claim that "elections have always been won by getting out there and talking to people" may actually be less and less accurate over recent years. True it may be that doorstep campaigning wins over far more voters than a television advertisement (party/political election broadcasts are nothing more than this), as may long term communication within constituencies from their MPs, but whether people talk politics unprompted is questionable.
But actually Douglas Alexander is talking about 'word of mouse' in 2010 or he seems to be veering that way in the video, he wants people to contact friends and tell why they should vote Labour - extended the change we see message via the keyboard and mouse. Oddly though, the email going out to Labour list members does not reinforce the message of contributing to the campaign but receiving. The invites are then about signing up to the party Twitter feed, becoming a fan on Facebook or getting the iPhone app - this enables the party to communicate to you and does not automatically mean involvement. The idea of word of mouth online is a good one, while donating your Facebook status to a party (as was allowed during the 2008 US presidential campaign) may not win votes, an endorsement from a friend just might. But will they actually encourage public endorsements, from members or supporters, by word of mouse? Politics is still something that some are very reluctant to talk about, especially party politics. Also it may not be cool to be into politics, let alone to support a party, and can support for any of the current parties in any way be spun as cool? It is an idea though and as a mobilisation tool a good one, provided there are more like those who currently cheerlead for Labour on Twitter (see @bevaniteellie as one very vocal example).

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