Much has been written about how important social media and online generally was to Barack Obama’s presidential election campaign as if Harry’s Place didn’t know (with the mammoth amount of comments racked up here on election night -710 – and the amount of comment here during the long campaign) and now the Labour Party is moving ahead with its own plans with several different initiatives.
The first part of that was unveiled last week by Derek Draper, who got taken on again last year to look at things digital. He’s already unveiled LabourList.org, which is designed to rival the Tory site ConservativeHome.
Other elements on the way include a “take to the web” initiative that will ensure that key ministers appear on popular online forums and on the social media front there will be a Labour Party HQ blog and a focus on producing virals and widgets.
The ideas were part of a presentation drawn up in December that grasps the real digital opportunity for Labour and that is building new social networks to replace those that have disappeared.
“As old networks (trade unions, branch meetings, etc) decline, we need to find and be involved with the new, online networks that are developing. Being in the community now also means being in the online community.”
That’s exactly what happened in America. Obama and his team helped build new networks that turned into a campaign winning machine. That’s what Labour needs to do (in addition to traditional party foot soldiering on the doorstep) as well if it is to win the next election.
As that is what social media sites and services like Twitter are; networks small and large.
Another part of Labour’s online social media strategy was revealed today with the launch of Labourspace.com. It’s a much needed site. The idea behind Labourspace.com is really simple. People get their own webpage within the Labourspace network where they can tell the party why they think Labour should be implementing their campaign ideas.
On LabourList today the energy and climate change secretary, Ed Miliband, writes about the how the Labour Party must be ready with a vision of the kind of society it wants to see and how Labourspace is part of that.
“How many of us know young people who don’t have their voice heard and feel that society has nothing to offer them?
“The politics and the institutions we build must speak to their lives. We’ve made real progress in these areas, but there is more to be done.
“That’s why today I am launching Labourspace.com – the Labour Party’s campaign social networking site. I hope it will provide a unique home for organisations and people to host and promote their campaigns – and to bring their ideas to the attention of Labour ministers and the wider Party.”
“Labourspace.com opens up a dialogue on the internet precisely designed to stimulate ideas on how Labour can build on the progress we have made. Between now and our next manifesto it will be canvassing the best ideas, and, I hope, fostering a two way dialogue between you and me.”
Balls says he will be regularly checking out the site. I hope he does and that other ministers do as well and find time to engage at that grass roots level as if they don’t building sites like Labourspace is a waste.