Veteran Labour MP for Islington North, initially stood for the leadership of his party to provide a platform for what many would describe as ‘traditional Labour values’. Seen by some as more of a token gesture to the party’s left rather than a genuine bid for leadership, Corbyn’s grassroots campaign has seen him emerge from the ranks as a front runner for the top job.
While other candidates’ campaigns have attracted large financial donations from supporters, Corbyn’s by contrast has seen fewer financial boosts and yet grows stronger by the day. Initially a rank outsider, given odds of 100/1 by Ladbrokes, he is now ahead of the early favourite Andy Burnham.
So how does a rank outsider with limited financial backing and an ideology on the fringe of a party get ahead? To some extent, the system helps.
Under Ed Miliband, Labour’s electoral rules were changed to ‘one member, one vote’ which significantly empowered the Labour Party’s membership in selecting its next leader. As individual voters gained power, so too did the importance of communicating effectively across social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook in order to galvanise support from the grassroots.
A breakdown of the leadership candidates’ social media profiles reveals the success of Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign. His campaign’s official Twitter account has almost 32,000 supporters, ahead of Liz Kendall’s 13,000, Burnham’s 8,000 and Yvette Cooper’s 6,000.
It can be no accident that Jeremy Corbyn’s Twitter feed boasts over 400 pieces of sharable photo and video content - indicative of a well thought-out social media strategy, which offers followers a way to engage and show their support through favourites, responses and retweets. Interesting, visual content in the form of individual photos, sharp graphics and YouTube video clips, alongside a memorable hashtag is a recipe for social media success.
Facebook tells a similar story, Corbyn’s page has 50,000 ‘Likes’, far more than any other candidate. The page’s output is quite impressive – averaging 7-8 posts a day plus rapid reactive replies to comments and questions. Again, this level of content is much higher than the any other campaign.
The momentum generated by a surging social media presence can also create consistent headlines in newspapers, radio and television. With the voting registration deadline soon approaching, we can expect a real push from all candidates across social media as well as traditional channels.
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