#NickCleggsFault - Daily Mail PR and UK Election Twitter Trends
UK Election Fever
Incase you hadn't already been made aware of the fact by the sudden appearance of your local MP, or the inescapable media coverage, we are indeed rapidly approaching a General Election in the UK.
The time of year when political parties kick into action and start canvassing for votes, typically the election run in has only really been a two horse race between the Labour party and the Conservatives to see who finishes first past the post (an election pun...). Yet recently, this seems to have changed following the successful handling of the first televised Leadership Debate by the Liberal Democrats candidate Nick Clegg.
The Media Driven Rise of Nick Clegg
A man previously unknown to most, Clegg has seen a sudden rise in popularity according to the various campaign polls, presumably largely as a result of the positive media coverage he has received since the aforementioned debate, which appears to have elevated him from "also ran" to a serious contender.
This surge in support was made particularly apparent this morning (Thursday 22/4/2010) on social media platform Twitter as literally thousands of users showed support for Clegg following the Daily Mail's earlier smear attempt through their General Election 2010 article - "Nick Clegg in Nazi Slur on UK
The article, which attempted to suggest that Clegg believes the entire UK population to hold beliefs of a "misplaced superiority" over defeating Nazism and bearing a grudge at the fact that Germany has become "a vastly more prosperous nation" seemed to provoke an unintended reaction from the public upon the mention that the comments from Clegg had been lifted from an article published in the Guardian newspaper 8 years earlier (2002).
Instead of damaging support for the Lib Dem leadership candidate, the article seems to have galvanised it as Twitterer's began using the sarcastic hash tag (a means of tagging messages on the platform to a particular topic) #NickCleggsFault to mock the Daily Mail by comically attributing blame to Clegg for all manner of things, including missed trains, spilt drinks, the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland and even the collapse of the Colosseum!
While many of those who tweeted using the tag will no doubt simply have done so to join in the fun (averaging more than 20 tweets a second for more than an hour), the widespread usage of Clegg's name and the associated fun of using it will no doubt have helped the Lib Dem leader to gain additional support and familiarity among potential voters.
The Daily Mail will no doubt also have benefited from the public trending of the term as it will only serve to drive further traffic to the tabloid's website to read the instigating story - assisting with potential readership acquisition and to a lesser extent, online advertising revenues.
Leadership Debate: Round 2
With the second of three televised leadership debates taking place this evening, Twitter
will again be set to light up with UK election related trends after the previous broadcast inspired a record 184,396 tweets
from 36,483 users
over the two hours in which the debate took place, making it one of the biggest online events ever
If you're a twitter user with an interest in the coming election, keep an eye on the hash tag #leadersdebate for an insightful view into the political opinions of others across the UK, along with more than a few laughs along the way...