It’s the ‘social media election’ – and those NOT on Twitter will lose votes

The general election in May has been dubbed the 'social media election'. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/P

The general election in May has been dubbed the 'social media election'. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire - Credit: PA

A social media expert has warned that parliamentary candidates who are not talking to voters in cyberspace will lose votes.

The analysis, by Jamie Riddell of BirdSong Analytics, describes how political parties and hopeful candidates are battling for the prize on May 7.

In this region the number of parliamentary candidates taking to Twitter to get their message out varies between parties.

The Labour Party has 12 out of 13 prospective parliamentary candidates holding a Twitter account – the most of the five parties standing in the region.

The UK Independence Party is the lowest with seven of its 13 members active, the Conservatives have 11, Green Party 10 and Liberal Democrats eight.

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With Twitter, candidates are given the chance to reach thousands of potential voters with a click of a button.

Conservative candidate Elizabeth Truss, who is standing in South West Norfolk, has 17,600 people following her, and Labour's Jessica Asato, standing in Norwich North, 11,200.

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And Mr Riddell is warning those who are not using Twitter, to get online or risk missing out.

'A lot of people are calling this election the social media election,' he said.

'So it's a very real missed opportunity if candidates aren't on Twitter or not tweeting, and that could translate into missed votes.'

The Broadland constituency is the worst offender across the region when it comes to Twitter.

Of the five candidates just two – Conservative Keith Simpson and Greens' Andrew Boswell – hold accounts.

And while Mr Simpson has 465 followers he hasn't Tweeted once since he joined the site in August 2012.

The UK Independent Party's candidates in Great Yarmouth, a seat where the party is hoping to make significant gains, Mid Norfolk, Broadland, North West Norfolk, Suffolk Coastal and West Suffolk do not use Twitter.

Mr Riddell is urging all candidates across the parties to change their ways as traditional means of door-step canvassing goes online.

He said: 'It's now or never. They have got three weeks. If they don't understand Twitter, find someone who does.

'They have got to get on Twitter, it's very easy to find people who are talking about the debates or engaging with newspapers.'

But it's not just about having an account – but using it too.

Mr Riddell explained: 'Having candidates on Twitter is important because it's an opportunity to connect with audiences they may not meet elsewhere.

'Door-stepping could be replaced by Twitter, so it's certainly a potential vote winner or loser.

'The younger generation and people who work every day are not around to be door-stepped.

'Therefore social media is a potential tool to get votes and promote messages.'

Follow Rosa McMahon on Twitter @rosamcmahon

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