• Adam Whittaker

What has this election meant for social media?

So time for a little retrospection.

There will be no political bias here. This isn’t some slant on preferential thoughts from Yours Truly. This is more a reflection on how the last few weeks have panned out and what it means for our new third eye. There were numerous ways in which this election has been a defining point. Although the dust has a long way to go before it starts to settle, the post mortem on Facebook et al has begun.

Taking all personal party thoughts out of the equation, I found the latest political wranglings fascinating. The conclusion has to be that, no matter which way you look at it, social and the media in general, certainly didn’t have the faintest smell of roses.

Over 80% of the Conservative’s online ads contained false information (allegedly), the Labour Party on the other hand were deemed squeaky clean. Every day there was some gaff from one side or another either in front of the camera or on one platform or another.

Initial observations astounded me. How could leading public figures be so inept when delivering policy or political statements? So few of our so called leaders looked like they had ever been on the receiving end of any media training whatsoever. The brilliant Michael Spicer made light of their deliberations yet also served to highlight the ridiculousness of it all.

As brilliant as political advisers have been portrayed, particularly on one side of the spectrum, in the days since the result was announced, none it appeared were able to prepare their charges for the media spotlight. Some key figures disappeared from our screens altogether following catastrophic errors of judgement in interviews. Some seemed to stumble from one interrogation to another, whilst others apparently refused to appear at all, hence taking themselves out of the line of fire and out of the ever increasing humiliating arena.

We have been blessed over the years with eloquent orators, people able to command a crowd, an interviewer or a pollster. Where have they gone and why has there been such an inability to recognise the importance of the public facing persona? Is there such an overpowering lack of sincerity, empathy and understanding that many of our elected officials feel there is no need for them to polish their communication skills?

One of the basic and most fundamental thoughts I always emphasise when delivering workshops or working with businesses is that you are the brand. You are the greatest marketing advocate your business can ever have in its arsenal. The flipside that is that if you are unethical, illogical, irrelevant and unsympathetic, you can inflict irreparable damage not only to your own image but the brand of your company or party as a whole.

What was baffling in this particular instance is that, no matter how hard it seemed so many political contenders tried, their unbelievably poor performance did them absolutely no harm whatsoever. The more ‘out of touch’ they appeared, the less it seemed to matter as long as they continued to bleat their mantra and toe the party line.

I have no doubt that the role of social media will continue to be frighteningly influential in the running of our country and other matters of such significance. Yet it is our lack of concern at what we are being spoon fed that is incredibly alarming. Senior figures being called out on Twitter, others ridiculed and fact checked to within an inch of their political lives had absolutely no effect it seems on public mood.

Does this say more about us than it does the platforms we crave to scour? Or does this signify the start of a lack of belief in the honesty in what we see and read, therefore it is consigned to a scroll past quicker than you can say ‘hiding in a fridge’? Are all the platforms returning to a source of entertainment and fiction rather than fact? How far has the control gone in what we actually see on our phones? In days gone by, if you wished to avoid a flyer being handed out by someone in a suit and a rosette, your simply walked away but the fact of the matter is, we cannot walk away from our phones, or we choose not to, meaning our suitors have a captive and possibly gullible audience.

And as for what is going on in the US… let’s not go there!

If you or business need any help with social media or media training then contact me