How social media influenced young voters

Britain’s #GenerationVote is more attuned to social media campaigns than traditional media. Sophie Godfrey-Phaure, 22, pictured, an intern at digital content specialist Deep South Media, explains how her peer group wrong-footed the political and media elite in London, resulting in a hung Parliament.

Traditional national media needs to desperately re-evaluate its strategy after the result of the unprecedented General Election vote this morning, as early reports have suggested 72% of young people voted.

An estimated 85% of millennials say that staying up to date with the latest news is at least somewhat important, according to research conducted by Media Insight Project.

But they do not rely on newspapers to attain their daily news updates. Instead, we use social media to get news.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn maximised the party’s social media reach to connect with younger voters.

This resulted in one million 18 to 24-year-olds registering to vote since Theresa May called for an election on April 18th.

As a 22-year-old, I experienced first-hand the Labour Party’s undeniably savvy social media campaign, which resulted in Jeremy Corbyn becoming the candidate of choice for many 18-24 year olds.

Whether it was Corbyn’s brunching with ‘grime’ stars, such as Stormzy and Jme, or his appearance at rallies where he stood alongside comedians, it was evident that the Labour party galvanised the young into voting.

On a trip to central London earlier this week, where I visited future work colleagues (both of which are millennial), we ended up discussing Jeremy Corbyn for a great length of time.

I came to the realisation that Corbyn was already regarded as ‘our’ leader before the election result; he was creating and offering parity between young people.

The Labour party clearly acknowledged the young needed acknowledging and hearing – they predominantly situated their campaign on social media to connect with the 99% of young users.

Nearly everyone in the UK between the ages of 16-24 uses social media on a weekly basis, according to the recent report from Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator.

This research affirms social media’s growing ubiquity and points directly to where politicians should aim to meet the young.

Astonishingly, 99% of the 16 to 24-year-olds use social media at least once a week or more; the average screen time is 2 hours 26 minutes a day.

What an opportunity,  then, to grab our attention.

Social media encapsulates young audiences, with news shared in seconds over smartphones between companions.

It worked to Jeremy Corbyn’s success as he became the prime candidate for many and successfully gained 266 seats, defying pollsters and demonstrating the new-found strength social media has over traditional media.

When campaigners learn to speak to us millennials on our level, there is no limit to what they can achieve.

Jeremy Corbyn has made history as he crystallised the enthusiasm of us young voters due to his strong social media campaign.

In doing so we have wrong-footed the political and media elites in London, revealing their generational blindspot.

The tail has, finally, wagged the dog.