FIR 190: Digital vs analogue behaviour in the UK general election

For the December edition of The Hobson & Holtz Report – aka episode 190 of the For Immediate Release podcast – Shel and I picked an eclectic list of topics to talk about.

As a European and, specifically, a Brit, my hot one was about the result of the General Election that took place here in the UK on December 12 – the result was a landslide win for Boris Johnson and the Conservative party – and the role social media played in influencing voters.

Did social media influence voters to the extent that it influenced the outcome? What difference did voter age make? What about voter demographics especially age-related?

Such questions arose from reading various reports and narratives in mainstream media and some social. I encountered much anecdotal commentary suggesting that the older you were, and the less affluent you were, the more you were analogue, as it were – you used traditional media and your friends for information and perspective that might inform your voting behaviour. Especially the further north in England you were.

Shel wasn’t too impressed with this view, believing as I have always done that social media plays a continuous, persistent and increasing role in society including influencing opinion and behaviours related to voting in elections no matter your age.

Yet I believe there is a far stronger case to make in the US than in the UK. In this UK election, I think age and socio-economic indicators did divide almost neatly the digital from the analogue – the (younger) users of Facebook and Twitter versus those (older) who watch the TV news bulletins and read newspapers especially tabloids, and chat with like-minded and -aged friends, who neither use nor give attention to social media at all.

A media report by one BBC reporter on the ground zeroed in on this point:

“Our election tour of Britain underlined one key observation: the noise on social media has little resemblance to the real world. So many people are not on Twitter or Facebook. They don’t care what people on there think. Twitter is an irrelevance.”

Still, there’s much still to know and no doubt in the coming weeks we’ll see the results of more analysis on this topic.

Meanwhile to the podcast! Here’s the full rundown on what Shel and I discussed in this episode:

  • Social media lessons from the UK’s 2019 general election
  • Podcasts will be eligible for Pulitzer Prizes
  • You may be able to create your own Twitter
  • Merriam-Webster’s word of the year and the communicators who reject it
  • The English language is finally losing its grip on the internet
  • Key digital marketing trends to watch in 2020
  • Dan York reports on Twitter and decentralization, Reddit’s growth spurt, and TikTok’s top 100 videos

Special thanks to Jay Moonah for the opening and closing music.

Listen Now

(or download the MP3 file)

Links from this month’s episode

Links from Dan York’s Tech Report

The next episode of The Hobson & Holtz Report will be posted on Monday, January 20, 2020.