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Wednesday, 6 May 2015

The Politics of Social Media: #Milifandom and Bacon Sarnies

Whoever ends up winning the UK general election 2015, there’s no denying that there has been a clear winner on social media thus far. If the newly elected Prime Minister was based on Twitter mentions and support alone (imagine that!) then Ed Miliband would be the obvious victor.

This has been one of the closest and weirdest general elections in history. Although there was a fair amount of social media activity around the last election, it seems that never before have young people been so outspoken and engaged in politics. This is perhaps due to social media’s ability to reach a young demographic.

It all kicked off when #Milifandom started trending, thanks to a young 17-year-old girl named Abby who leads the movement that posts social media tributes to the Labour leader. Despite having Conservative parents, the teenager describes herself as a feminist, activist and Labour Party member, and is even selling Ed Miliband T-shirts! Her account @twcuddleston now has 26.7k followers.

#Milifandom has generated an overwhelming response, with lots of users tweeting their support and even posting pictures depicting Ed Miliband as a teen heart-throb.

After that came other Ed Miliband related content, such as this video, in which Jack Lilley turned the Labour Leader’s election campaign into 8 Mile…

Now, yet again, Ed is trending on Twitter in some way or another. This time #JeSuisEd is the most trending topic in the UK, as people have backlashed against The Sun’s front page attempt to disgrace Miliband for messily eating a bacon sarnie. The public has condemned The Sun and Rupert Murdoch, stating that the tabloid has stooped very low and that the way in which Ed eats a sandwich has nothing to do with how he would run the country.

It has led to tonnes of humorous memes and pictures of people demonstrating that they too are sloppy eaters:

What do you think of all this social media activity leading up to the election - will it translate into votes or is it all just a bit of fun? Since social media is such a vital tool for communication nowadays, what tactics do you think politicians should use to spark voter engagement?

Interestingly, if we look at the number of followers the politicians have, David Cameron is in fact leading by far.The Conservative leader has 999k followers, Ed Miliband has 472k followers, Nick Clegg has 241k followers and Nigel Farage has 224k followers.

If one thing's for certain, you should never underestimate the power of a meme and at the very least it has got many people talking!

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