Guest blog: Bevanite Ellie on whether it will be twitter wot won the General Election
Will it be Twitter wot won it? Well, the short answer... No. But unlike any previous election, social media will play a significant role in the fight for the keys to No. 10. Twitter, Facebook and numerous political blogs have all become the refuge of the political geek.
Many question whether the analysis, comment and debate on these sites is in fact worth anything at all. Is it just the political "twitterati" talking to themselves?
Will a trending hashtag really win over a swing voter in Pendle?
No, not by itself. But social media is a tool which, used effectively, can swing an election. It did in America and it may here.
The Labour Party has learnt the key lesson that the Obama campaign taught us, that organisation online should be used to enhance traditional forms of campaigning offline.
Labour recognise that this election will be won on the doorstep, in the local pubs and outside the school gates. It's, as Douglas Alexander calls it, the "word of mouth" election. Social media can facilitate offline action and it is this complimentary use of the internet which is the game-changer.
Political battles between passionate activists on Twitter will not influence an as yet undecided voter, but the group of activists who have organised themselves on Twitter to call up marginal constituencies or to get out on the doorstep with their local candidate on a Saturday morning, just might.
Where the Tories are operating a more command and control type approach to their use of social media, Labour are entrusting the grassroots to shape the debate. The latter strategy is undoubtedly more risky, but I think it is the only way to go.
Integrity and honesty are valued highly in the realm of social media, those who use it to regurgitate the party press release alone, are soon found out. Twitter and blogs in particular may come into their own when used alongside the TV debates.
I do not doubt journalists and news channels will be monitoring the online response to the debates closely, and will potentially be reporting such reaction in the immediate aftermath. It is again, the use of social media alongside traditional forms of campaigning, in this case television, which is where its true potential lies.
This election is not a broadcast one, it is about engaging, honestly with an electorate which has been put off politics. We need to win back that trust and to answer the valid questions and concerns people have. The age of the "broadcast" election, where snazzy posters suffice, has long gone.