Social media influencers: Are they able to swing elections?

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Social media influencers are known for getting their followers to do or buy what they are promoting, but could the power of the influencer impact politics?

Voting 2017 Elections

If you follow the opinion polls and the news, you would be lead to believe that Jeremy Corbyn has absolutely no chance of winning this year’s snap general election and bringing Labour back into power.

At the time of writing, the most recent YouGov poll has Labour at 24 percent, whilst the Conservative party is racing ahead with 48 percent, with the Lib Dems, UKIP and others making up the remaining percentages.

Using the power of the influencer isn’t a new thing in politics. In previous elections, MPs would often be seen rubbing shoulders and shaking hands with the rich and famous to get celebrity endorsements for their campaigns.

During Brexit in 2016, more than 250 celebrities signed a letter, calling for the UK to remain in Europe. Although Britain voted to exit the European Union, the role of the celebrities did help sway opinions and make interesting points as to why Britain should remain in Europe.

Political advertising has evolved from the traditional printed and televised campaigns to the digital sphere. In the 2016 US elections, Donald Trump employed the services of big data company Cambridge Analytica, to build up profiles of American voters and use a series of social media and paid campaigns to persuade voters to back the billionaire instead of his democratic rival.

Generation Z

Social media influencers audiences are typically aged between 16-25. This age range coincides with the is the audience most likely not to vote in the elections. In the 2015 elections, it was women aged 18-24 that were most likely not to vote.

turnout in elections since the 1970sA new hashtag recently emerged and is being used by influencers #BloggersWhoVote was started by blogger Laura Jane Williams on the day the elections were announced by Theresa May, to encourage fellow bloggers to get involved in the campaign and discuss where the government will be leading us beyond Brexit and for the next five years.

YouTubers and bloggers are able to reach the audiences politicians haven’t been successful in engaging with in the past. By bringing more voters to the ballot box on 8th June 2017 will give the nation an opportunity to express their views. With influencers highlighting the importance of voting and encouraging their followers to cast their votes, we could see the highest uptake of voter registrations and electoral turnout in recent years.

The elections are in seven weeks time and it would be interesting to see how the role of the influencer will (or will not) get more voters casting their votes. You can register to vote by visiting: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

Will you be influenced by a YouTuber to vote in the elections? 

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