We've done the research, but can we make the prediction?
On the 7th May 2015 history will be made. For the first time in recent years there are more than three parties who could make it into power in the UK. Instead of the usual two horse race, Labour and Tories alike have admitted that there will probably be another coalition government. This makes the political situation in the UK incredibly exciting.
What we wanted to do this month was see if we could predict who would win. As a company we are naturally politically neutral, and so decided to ignore everything that has gone before. Instead we decided to judge a party purely by their online presence as an organisation.
The digital presence can tell us a lot about the parties involved. It can tell us if they connect well with their public, if they are up to speed with modern times, and how much effort they are prepared to put into the election. Using the statistics we gathered we can make a hypothesis as to who will win the 2015 General Election.
How We Conducted The Research
Conducting the research was simple. We set the rules for our parameters and then looked into the big seven. These are the Labour Party, the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats, the UK Independence Party, the Green Party, the Scottish National Party, and Plaid Cymru of Wales.
- We decided to look into the Social Media of the seven political parties. These included Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. Google+ was ignored due to the fact that it is being dissolved (and no one ever really used it in the UK). Instagram was also ignored as only one party advertised as having it (Labour).
- For a snapshot we looked at the posts on Social Media across the same 24 hour period. This was from 9am Sunday 29th March to 9am Monday 30th March 2015. To verify our results we read through several days of posts just to make sure that our findings were not just anomalies.
- On Twitter and Facebook we are measuring the amount of shares. Sharing generally suggests people interacting with posts rather than just clicking a 'Like' or 'Favourite' button. It shows people willing to put their name to a political opinion by sharing it.
- For analysing Youtube videos we chose party political broadcasts only. We discounted interviews, general, and videos designed to put other parties down.
- For on and off-page SEO our analytical team viewed the source code of each party site. This gave us the on-page SEO. For off-page SEO we used an awesome Moz approved tool. We analysed their homepages only.
- We made the assumption that personalities of the leaders do not matter. For this study we are taking the parties as they are online. If they have a distinct Social Media personality then we can comment on this. If they show no personality then we can talk about this. For the sake of this article it does not matter what is going on outside of the internet.
- We are ignoring everything said by the politicians in regards to who they would and would not be happy to create coalitions with.
- We would like to reiterate again that:
CAB STUDIOS IS A POLITICALLY NEUTRAL COMPANY. We are just exploring what the statistics tell us.
Now we have laid those out, let us continue. Who will win the 2015 General Election?
UKIP SMASH THE FACEBOOK RACE
For Facebook we looked at four statistics - number of followers, number of posts within a 24 hour period, the engagement of those posts, and how many average shares per post this equalled.
Labour posted the most in a 24 hour period by quite a long way. They posted 24 times, but had a relatively low interaction rate. This could be because their visual posts are not visually stimulating. Instead the vast majority of their posts are red or white text on a red or white background. Over a 24 hour period they had 224.7 shares per post on average.
The below image is an example of a Labour post from their Facebook page from Sunday 29th March.
Conservatives, on the other hand, only posted four times with an average engagement of 1400.25 shares per post. Three of these posts were not why people should vote Conservative but rather why not to vote Labour. This resulted in the two major parties having roughly the same engagement. Labour had 5393 shares in 24 hours, Conservatives had 5601. The typical style of Conservative post can be seen below.
The image below is from the Conservative Facebook page, posted on the morning of Monday 30th March.
Liberal Democrats only posted twice in 24 hours and had 477 shares across the board. Green posted twice with 133 shares, SNP once with 89 shares, and Plaid Cymru once with 15 shares.
The real contest comes from UKIP. Not only do they have the second highest number of Facebook followers (after Conservatives) but they only posted four times and had an average of 2284.25 shares per post. This lead them to having 9137 total shares in 24 hours.
Winner of the 2015 General Election on Facebook
UKIP, followed not very closely, by the Conservatives. The reasons are clear. They have the best reaction on Facebook over all.
SNP COME THROUGH ON TWITTER
Twitter is slightly more complicated than Facebook. We looked at the number of retweets a party got within 24 hours. We then compared engagement rate, activity, and thus got an over all ranking. Naturally enough, we also kept number of followers in mind, but it was not as important as we are only interested in engaged and not passive follows.
To be frank, Labour and Conservatives are similar on Twitter, as they were on Facebook. Labour posted 14 times, the Conservatives only three. Labour had an engagement rate of 49.39 retweets per post, whereas the Conservatives had 218. This meant that Labour had slightly more interactions in total but only just (691 to 654). Not enough to swing an election by any means.
Once more Labour posted a lot of red and white images whilst all three of the Conservative posts were why not to vote for Labour and not why to vote Conservative.
The Liberal Democrats struggle to interact with their audience. They posted the most in 24 hours, posting 36 times in total and yet had the lowest interaction rate of any party (16.4 retweets per post). We can speculate that the reason for this is because of the age demographic on Twitter.
Another thing to note about the Liberal Democrats' Twitter is that they post the same few posts over and over again, sometimes right next to each other. This suggests that they schedule their posts and will always lead to lower engagement. People do not want to engage with something they have already seen.
Green and Plaid Cymru only posted once in 24 hours and thus only had 27/28 retweets each.
The dark horse on Twitter is the SNP. They posted the second highest amount, 34 times in 24 hours, and drove a decent engagement. They had 1299 retweets in the 24 hour period and thus (we can assume) had the furthest reach.
Winner of the 2015 General Election According to Twitter
The Scottish National Party had the highest number of shares and thus, we assume, reached the largest number of people. Conservatives are second, but are quite a long way behind with the rest of the parties.
UKIP'S YOUTUBE LEAVES ALL OTHERS IN THE DUST
In terms of Youtube there is one party that stands out above all others. UKIP own UKIP TV and release one to three videos a day. This means that they have built up a phenomenal library and have a phenomenal number of views. In the past three months they have gained a quarter of a million views on their policy videos. On top of this they also have a UKIP main site with just party policies uploaded, and numerous other Youtube sites whereas the other main parties only have one main active channel each. The two images below show how regularly they upload and the types of videos they upload. The first is UKIP TV and the second is their UKIP general channel. Both show policy videos.
Below now is the UKIP main video list. As it can be seen - they upload a lot.
The Conservatives, on the other hand, have 12 proper policy videos and 160,872 views in total. This is 3x as many as the next party, the SNP, and 11x more than Labour (who only have 13,434) and Lib Dems (who have 12,665) on policy videos.
Once again, Green are second from last, but not through lack of trying as their videos are unique and quite interesting. They are just not pushing them out on Social Media, as discussed before.
Plaid Cymru have 16 policy videos but they only have an average of 156.13 views per video. This is, as with the Green Party, because they do not advertise them.
Please note, when looking at the graph below, that the SNP have hidden how many subscribers they have.
Winner of the 2015 General Election According to Youtube
UKIP, followed once more by the Conservative Party.
SNP OPTIMISE THEIR PAGE THE BEST
On-page SEO is always an interesting subject. There is so much emphasis placed upon it in the SEO and Digital communities that it is assumed that all marketing agencies know about it. Keep this in mind.
Labour have misused their STRONG tag and have optimised for the Tories in their H3 tag. The Conservatives have optimised for Labour in all three of their H3 tags on their main page and have misused their H1, H2, and STRONG tags. Liberal Democrats have misused their H2 tag, optimising for none of their keywords, whilst having no STRONG tag. UKIP have misused their STRONG tag whilst having no H2 or TITLE tags. Green have misused their H2 and STRONG tags. Plaid Cymru have no H1, H2, or H3 tags. They do however use their STRONG and TITLE tags effectively.
What seems to be the case is that Labour and Conservative are using H3 tags when displaying the titles of their blogs featured on their homepage. There is nothing particularly wrong with this apart from that it changes numerous times a day. This is not necessarily great for optimisation as H3 tags are considered by Google.
The below image is of the Green Party using H1 tags correctly.
There is only one party who uses all of their tags correctly - the SNP. None of the parties had 300 words of static copy on their homepage.
Winner of the 2015 General Election According to On-Page SEO
The Scottish National Party comes in first. Who comes in second goes down to who messed up least - this is Labour.
LABOUR HAVE THE HIGHEST DOMAIN AUTHORITY
In terms of off-page SEO there are very few things to comment on. It is impossible to know everything a website is doing behind the scenes and how it is precisely interacting with Google - however, it is more than possible to make a few observations. Domain Authority gives some idea.
The main political parties are all doing well in terms of Domain Authority (DA). Labour have a DA of 79, the Tories 78, Lib Dem 76, UKIP 68, Green 67, and the SNP of 63.
So what about Plaid Cymru? Plaid do not have a DA higher than 1. Their URL is .cymru. They also have no Page Rank for the same reason. There is a fantastic study on why this may not be working for them (on keyword specific domain URLs in general, not on Plaid Cymru) that you can read here.
Winner of the 2015 General Election According to OFF-Page SEO
Labour have the highest Domain Authority followed by the Conservatives
WHO WILL WIN THE 2015 GENERAL ELECTION?
Judging by these results it does not look good for Plaid Cymru. They came last in all categories. This suggests that if Plaid Cymru are going to be serious competition then they will need to step up their game.
These results also suggest that whilst Labour have a fair amount of support it is passive support. They receive few interactions. They will need to show that they can interact better with their audience to gain a majority.
The Conservatives are in a strong position however; they seem to be more focused on putting Labour down than promoting their own policies as proven by their social posts and Labour H3 tags on their website. From a digital point of view they need to stop optimising for their oponents.
The Green Party could be serious players but do not engage with their audience well, and the Liberal Democrats are seriously struggling to connect with their audience more than any other party. For so many followers on Twitter, the Lib Dems have very little interaction. This is not a good sign.
So who does this leave?
UKIP have a great social presence and are thriving on Social Media. Their website is a bit rough, however, they are mastering social optimisation.
SNP, on the other hand, have a strong basis on everything. They may have a smaller following than UKIP but they do have a strong online presence. The SNP have become a jack of all trades in terms of digital presence.
So what does this mean for the future of the UK Government?
This is the interesting question and what this entire article has been boiling down to. Who will be in government as of May 8th?
What these results show is how the underdogs are rising through the ranks of online politics and thus there are two very distinct possibilities. This coming election there are more parties and the legwork that UKIP and the SNP have done so far make them serious players in Parliament. They are the new Liberal Democrats (compared to how the Liberal Democrats were five years ago). This suggests that in 2015 it won't be "I agree with Nick" but rather "I agree with Nigel/Nicola". The possibilities we believe are:
- Conservative/UKIP - UKIP came out first for engagement online. They are one of the most popular parties as proven by their Facebook follows. They understand the demand of the people. This would be a fairly right wing coalition.
- Labour/SNP - A Labour/SNP coalition would be an interesting one if the country swings left. SNP are the most connected with their followers out of any party after UKIP. This would be a mid-left coalition.
Those are the CAB predictions based upon the above research, although we will be updating you throughout this campaign to keep you up to date. For more infomation please visit the CAB website.