Pouring money into influencing the electorate to vote in a particular way has been endemic in all democratic societies. In the 2008 US presidential election this amounted to more than US$1 billion.
Now that the UK has had three years of everyone being connected to free broadband, it is not surprising that the world’s first fully electronic election is forging ahead, but also that funds are going primarily into the digital domain to influence voters.
“Networks amplify our capacity to influence one another – and this influence is worth a lot of money to the various parties,” says Alf Gordon, CEO of VoteRights. “It’s not surprising that the most important political conversations are centered around social networks and that a new centrist party has emerged here on the back of what is, simply put, better use of the new media.”
It is estimated that 75% of all lobbying spend is now on digital social networks. Facebook is currently valued at more than US$ 50 billion and is the platform of choice for internet and mobile users. Twitter and Tweets are integrated into all active networks.
“You can no longer understand or measure the effect of social networks in a traditional linear way. We are using ‘Evolutionary Graph Theory’ to understand how ideas are created, accepted and replicated in these open social networks,” say Sky News commentators.
If all that sounds a little too much like scientific mumbo-jumbo, you must remember that these kinds of terms are being used constantly in news broadcasts – the UK population has embraced this new level of freedom to participate and this interactive power to be agents of change.
The election is still some weeks out but the level of voter interest is unprecedented. Social networks have made politics the most popular reality show of the decade.