How Party Leaders Look on Social Media: could do better…

How Party Leaders Look on Social Media: could do better…

Apr 10, 2015
  • By Colm Hannon
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As I write, we are in the middle of the General Election campaigning, and I thought it was time to see how the leaders of the 4 main UK political parties present themselves on social networks – and in particular, how they look on camera. For if political parties and their leaders are not professional in their presentation, then there is really no excuse for them if they fail at the polls.

So with absolutely no political bias involved, I present to you the images portrayed by the leaders.

David Cameron – no premium profile?

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David Cameron is, as you would expect, represented on LinkedIn but only with a basic listing – where is the compelling widescreen shot that would make an impact? His 1.6 million followers are impressive (up from 326,000 in 2013) but is he serious about the business network? His last post was on January 16th.

His advisers clearly put more effort into Facebook and Twitter, where we see the same photos:

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Better than LinkedIn, but is this ‘man alone’ main image the one to portray? And the low-rent photobooth inset is unfortunate.

Twitter is of course the politicians’ favourite playground, and the network where they feel most at home. As PM, Cameron has over 3 million followers as well as the nearly 1 million he has through his personal feed. And add in half a million Facebook likes.

Ed Miliband – not a networker

Ed Miliband by contrast has no LinkedIn profile at all. This was pointed out online in a 2013 article but he and his people have done nothing about it; an astonishing omission from an Opposition Leader who wishes to stress his business-friendly credentials.

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On Facebook (an unimpressive 79,000 likes) and Twitter (412,000 followers, up from 230,000 in 2013) you will find Miliband being active – but does the photography do him justice? Above is a basic Facebook page, with a poor quality main photo and an inset shot that makes him look like a delegate asking a question, not a leader with his people.

Give his advisers points for showing a different campaigning message on Twitter and using the enhanced listing - but again, couldn’t they commission a professional photographer to shoot the banner, or at lest crop it properly?

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Nick Clegg – lukewarm on LinkedIn

Nick Clegg is on LinkedIn, but with just ‘500+’ connections, the verdict is ‘must try harder’. His Background also reads like a potted CV rather than a major leader’s pitch. And the sole picture looks as though he is nodding off on the train:

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When it comes to Twitter (221,000 followers), he is more at home:

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This does show some appreciation of the importance of a good photographic image, accompanied by a natural inset shot.

Nigel Farage is Offshore…

Finally, let’s look at how UKIP’s Nigel Farage acquits himself on social media. Well, it’s a mixed picture. He also fails to appear on LinkedIn, which omission is made worse by the fact that a Nigel Farage, CEO of Offshore Solutions, Gibraltar, is what you see when you search for him. Not the image that the politician would want…

He does far better on Twitter (204,000 followers) and Facebook (142,000 likes). It is the Twitter page that shows him to best effect, campaigning in his trademark floppy hat and with a sympathetically shot portrait: the cropping of the main photo could perhaps be improved but the daffodils add a nice Wordsworthian touch:

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So my conclusion is that some work is going on to portray the leaders favourably on social media, which is going to be a hugely important battleground: but a lot more could be done to improve their visual presentation. And that is crucially important.

It is easy to criticise, but I am also conscious that many business leaders fail to use social media to the best advantage. It starts with the right pictures: and that is why I launched the Corporate Photography service at Hannon Digital. We are open for business to political parties, companies and public bodies alike: and we will ensure that you look good – and that means professional - online.