Young people have long had a reputation for caring very little about politics. In fact, some polls suggest that in the 2015 general election, just 58% of 18 to 24-year-olds turned up to vote and in the 2016 EU referendum, it’s believed as few as 36% of people from this age group cast their ballots.
It’s clear to see that there’s a fundamental disconnect between young voters and politics. And, with politicians across all parties doing very little to communicate with those in the 18 to 24 bracket, it’s easy to see why. Politicians don’t speak to young people because young people don’t vote; young people don’t vote because politicians don’t speak to them. It’s a vicious cycle.
“Isis is having more success recruiting young people than the main political parties are,” says Joe Wade, co-creator of the political satire show The Revolution Will Be Televised.
With more than 7 million 18 to 24-year-olds in the UK alone, politicians could do far worse than tap into this market. In fact, winning young people over could make a world of difference to a party’s success.
There’s just one problem: young people can be difficult to reach through traditional platforms. They don’t read newspapers, they don’t listen to the radio and many of them don’t even watch TV. You’re far more likely to find young people reading blogs, listening to podcasts and watching YouTube videos and their favourite shows on-demand.
So how exactly can political parties tap into this mysterious target market? The answer is simple: working closely with online influencers with large and loyal young audiences.
Shortly after May announced plans for an early election, bloggers took to Twitter to encourage their audiences to register on the electoral roll. In an attempt to make blogging ‘sexy’, Laura Jane Williams started using the #BloggersWhoVote hashtag, while urging her contemporaries to get involved too.
Williams wasn’t the only one to encourage world-famous Zoella to get involved on Twitter. Several other bloggers used the platform to urge the Queen Bee of YouTube to drum up election enthusiasm.
— Alice Rose (@AliceRoseCo) April 18, 2017
With more than 8 million Twitter followers and a whopping 11 million YouTube subscribers, it’s easy to see why so many bloggers want 27-year-old Zoe Sugg on their side. Although many assume Zoella’s audience is made up of makeup obsessed teenagers, the YouTuber claims that her audience consists predominantly of women aged 18 – 24. It just so happens that this is the demographic least likely to vote, making this the perfect opportunity to grab the attention of a previously untapped audience.
Zoella usually tends to shy away from talking politics, but shortly after Theresa May’s general election announcement, she buckled under the pressure from other bloggers and sent out a tweet urging young people to register to vote.
Don’t forget to register to vote if you’re able to peeps! 👍🏼 https://t.co/ADEabc1xgc
— Zoë (@Zoella) April 18, 2017
Stepping out of the political comfort zone
On Wednesday, Amelia Tait wrote about how vloggers can transform political campaigns simply by creatively collaborating with politicians. Zoella could, Tait suggested, add a silly twist to the popular ‘My Boyfriend Does My Makeup’ YouTube trend by recording Jeremy Corbyn badly applying lipstick and mascare to her face.
In an article for iNews, Tait writes: “Picture the scene. Jeremy Corbyn picks up MAC’s number 224 Tapered Blending Brush and says: “What’s this then? Where does this go?” Zoella, Britain’s premier vlogger with nearly 12 million subscribers, throws her head back and giggles. After Corbyn applies lipstick to her eyes and eyeshadow to her lips, Zoella – real name Zoe Sugg – signs off her video. “Don’t forget to Like, Comment and Subscribe!” she says. “And vote in the 2017 general election,” adds the Labour leader, gruffly.”
we are one “corbyn does my make up” tag from the labour party being saved
— Amelia Tait (@ameliargh) April 18, 2017
Frustratingly, many MPs seem afraid to step out of their political comfort zone, desperately portraying themselves as serious professionals at all times. However, if they’re going to win over the hearts and votes of young people, they need to let their hair down and be a bit silly.
At the core of every great influencer marketing strategy is engaging, valuable and genuinely helpful content. And in this case, when we say ‘content’ what we really mean is manifestos packed full with life-changing policies. If politicians want to attract the attention of young people, they need to offer them things they’ll understand, love, and share with their friends
Although many may argue that young people aren’t at the forefront of Conservatives’ minds, the Tories’ Help to Buy ISA is an excellent example of a policy that encourages 18 to 24-year-olds to engage in politics. Each week, hundreds of young people take to Twitter to joke about how amazing they are at ‘adulting’ simply because they’ve opened a Help to Buy ISA.
Just opened a Help to Buy ISA and put over a grand in it. Who knew I could adult?! pic.twitter.com/4XGq4pMTWL
— N A T H A N (@Nathan_Saunders) April 6, 2017
By tackling astronomical tuition fees, increasing the minimum wage and even lowering the voting age, political parties can grab young people’s attention in no time. Teamed with a thorough social media strategy and the backing of young influencers, political parties can win over the coveted 18 to 24 market.