General Election 2015: Third of young people say social media will influence their vote

 
Guy Bentley
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Social media second biggest influence on youth vote (Source: Getty)

There is a strong tradition of British elections adopting some of the more cutting edge political trends seen in the US.

Labour and the Tories have both hired top political strategists from the Obama team to add a little stardust to the campaigns. Social media is also in the political parties' sights and rightly so, according to new research from pollster Ipsos Mori.

Over a third of those aged 18-24 said their vote would be influenced by something they read on social media. Social media among this group of voters is ranked only second to TV debates in terms of influencing whose box they'll tick.

The youth vote is traditionally one of the least likely to turn out. This is something Labour especially will hope to reverse as they retain a lead over both the Tories and the Greens among this group of voters.

Research from specialist marketing recruiter EMR suggests that Ukip is leading the pack on Facebook, with Labour ahead on Twitter and the Conservatives dominant on LinkedIn.

Among the rest of the population, social media ranked fairly low in its potential to impact the election. A leaders debate was mentioned by 40 per cent of people as an influence while 20 per cent cited newspapers. Only 13 per cent of the population at large mentioned social media.

Despite their overall lack of influence, most people had a positive attitude toward platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Almost 80 per cent of people said social media gave a voice to people who wouldn't normally take part in political debate.

Bobby Duffy, managing director of the Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute said:

Modern users of social media are sophisticated enough to recognise its disadvantages – and don’t seem to be dropping other news sources entirely – but its potential to widen access to politics could be key in halting the decline in political engagement among younger generations

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