Has this been a social media election?

There can be little doubt that social media has been at the heart of the 2015 election campaign with parties now at a stage where they understand and want to participate in this space. In the last six weeks there has been more content and video share than in the whole of the 2010 election campaign.

So what’s been the difference between now and then?

2010 appeared to be simply about getting party leaders and the party onto social media. 2015 is far more about participation in this space across a much wider scale with back benchers, MPs and candidates at a local level getting into this space and generating conversation.

And, compared to traditional media, social media has succeeded in creating a conversational election where, rather than simply ‘talking at’ voters, questions are being asked and wider conversations are taking place in real time. The element of hidden audiences is also playing a huge part with content sharing and the ability to influence really playing out.

So has this been a social media election?

Only when all the votes are in and counted will we truly be able to answer that.

Certainly the number of people talking about the general election online is greater than ever before with party hashtags and leader names used millions of times. But maybe it’s only when follow-up research determines whether social media made people vote, whether it influenced their vote, or even if turnout amongst young people goes up, that we’ll reach any conclusion as to whether this really was a social media election irrespective of how many millions of tweets were posted.