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    Labour Party Conference – the conversations on social media

    Political party conferences in 2014 don’t just happen in the conference floor or on TV – they now happen on social media as well.

    This conference season in particular will be a dress rehearsal for the coming months of the digital battle between the parties in the lead up to the General Election. To be successful in landing their message in this environment demands the parties adopt an integrated approach to communications tying together speeches, TV appearances, press releases and digital content. Portland’s digital team will be picking out the best of the social media discussion around the Conferences to see how they get on. First up, Labour.

    From the Saturday opening to the Wednesday close all the political party’s Twitter accounts were feverishly busy, with the Labour Party pushing their key messages and Conservatives and Liberal Democrats rebutting points made in speeches and the media.

    To anchor their digital communications the Labour Party kicked off with the launch of a new website: a responsive site, designed to work beautifully on all devices, it is clearly aimed to maximise impact as they gear up for the General Election next year – mixing communicating their message, mobilising their activists to take action and raising money from small donations.

    The key to shaping the debate online is to get fantastic, timely content to party supporters across all channels and for them to then share in their networks – amplifying their message throughout the social web.

    To that end Labour released a video on the NHS which backed up some of the key points made from conference floor:

    Over the five days of conference there were 168,725 Tweets that used the official hashtag #lab14 with the peak, unsurprising, on the day of Ed Miliband’s speech:

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    To check what people were actually talking about we analysed all those Tweets:

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    The NHS, child care, pay and tax were all covered in Ed Miliband’s speech, alongside one of the stars from the platform Harry Leslie Smith, who spoke about his life before the NHS. With the deficit featuring in the social conversation, if not in the leader’s speech.

    To understand if the majority of these tweets were coming from the converted inside the secure zone or whether the conversation was happening across Britain we’ve mapped them here:

    It shows that although a sizeable chunk of the tweets emanated from the Manchester area, there were people from across the UK getting involved in the discussion and making their voice heard.

    Twitter is only one of a number of channels the parties and leaders are active, and before conference Ed Miliband also launched an Instagram account (@ed_miliband), the only one of the UK party leaders to be on that platform. With the first post being a snapshot of his speech:

    With Instagram’s growing user base it has the potential to be a fantastic window into what Mr Miliband will be seeing and doing on the campaign trail, so is well worth a follow.

    The starting gun to the General Election next year was fired at Labour Party conference. How their digital teams communicate their messages and perform under pressure will be tested to the limit. With the polls currently showing a very tight contest, and more and more voters getting their news from social media we may well see digital being a deciding factor of who wins the keys to No. 10 in May.

    To hear more from Portland as the General Election unfolds follow us on Twitter and check back next week for the word from the UKIP and Conservative Parties Conferences, and the week after for the Liberal Democrats.


    Explore the Road to the Manifestos – our guide to the people, processes and policies that matter in the lead up to the 2015 General Election.

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