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The 2015 UK General Election and YouTube

By May 18, 2015Home Page, Video production
2015 election image

CNBC, the American broadcaster, recently posted a feature story entitled, “UK election: Why the world is watching.” It seems Americans are becoming increasingly interested in UK politics. This article looks at how effectively the main political parties used online video in the lead up to the 2015 election.  We start with this excellent video from Mashable which explains the first-past-the-post system, and summerises which each party stands for. Especially for fans of “Game of Thrones”, this is a perfect overview:

Let’s look at the YouTube activity of the main political parties in the lead up to the election:

The Tories: 3.7 Million Views, But No Likes

Starting with the Conservatives channel there were 77 uploads in the 90 days preceding the election. They received 3.7 million views, 778 comments, 0 likes, and 4,793 new subscribers.
If you look underneath “Welcome to our YouTube Channel”, you’ll see “Comments are disabled for this video.” This not only kills engagement on YouTube, it also sends voters the message: “I want your vote but I don’t want to be bothered with responding to your comments.” That’s not a great way to win friends and influence people.

As part of the video psyops series, presentation skills coach James Lavers analyses David Cameron’s on screen presence –  commenting on how the delivery of his message could be more impactful. We liked it, as we thought it contained some insightful comments and observations.

Labour: Impressive YouTube Channel Growth

Labour, led by Ed Miliband at the time, uploaded 69 videos to their Party channel during the same period. They received 523,000 views, 4,473 comments, 5,733 likes, and 2,559 new subscribers. Note Labour’s channel received fewer views and new subscribers than the Green Party in the run up to the election.
Russell Brand released a couple of videos encouraging the electorate to vote Labour, which attracted over 1.6M views.

Labour also released a video featuring actor and comedian Steve Coogan, which generated 100K plus views and created a LOT of buzz in the UK press:

The Greens: A Huge Spike in Views & Subscribers

The Green Party of England & Wales are no longer the minority party they once were. They uploaded 100 videos, received 823,000 views, 3,240 comments, 11,000 likes, and 3,191 new subscribers. let’s check out the their most popular video. It’s entitled “Change the Tune – The Green Party Election Broadcast.” The description says, “When every other party – Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and UKIP – seems so similar it’s like they’re in a boyband, it’s time to stand for what you believe in, and vote Green.”

The Lib Dems: A Drop in Views

Now, let’s review the Liberal Democrats channel who uploaded 90 videos. They received 376,000 views, 1,036 comments, 2,043 likes, and 715 new subscribers. The LibDems removed “Uptown Funk: Liberal Democrats (unofficial) Election Anthem,” their most watched video with 327,000 views.

UKIP: The Party with the Most Subscribers

Next, we’ll look at the UK Independence Party (UKIP) channel. They uploaded 26 videos in the 90 days preceding the election. They received 176,000 views, 3,194 comments, 4,725 likes, and 1,389 new subscribers. There was a noticeable drop in views when “UKIP Nigel Farage Immigration speech – GE March 2015,” which had 8,584 views, became unavailable.

Scottish Nationalists: No New Subscribers in 90 Days

The Scottish National Party (SNP) are ruffled a lot of feathers in this year’s election. They posted 30 videos to their YouTube channel in the past 90 days and they’ve received 110,000 views, 367 comments, 2,482 likes, and 0 new subscribers. Does this mean that the SNP is preaching to the converted?

Welsh Nationalists

Finally, we’ll look at the Welsh Nationalists channel saw very low engagement on YouTube, having uploaded 44 videos, received 18,000 views, 50 comments, 174 likes, and 142 new subscribers.

Election Conclusion: Is Video Even Working?

By looking at the video trends, we can see this is an election that refused to play by the rules. Two parties removed videos from their channels which were probably embarrassing gaffes. One channel hasn’t added any new subscribers in 90 days. And an inflection, bump, or spike in views back in March or April was no indication of which channels was more or less likely to influence voters on May 7.

Political Video Marketing: Strategic Insights

YouTube isn’t the only medium with the ability to influence its audience members. TV debates and newspaper endorsements are still influential. Other social media – including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vine – played key roles.

If you look at the Scottish National Party (SNP) channel, you’ll see what happens when you don’t choose to promote Featured Channels or have enough of your own Related Channels to get lucky. YouTube will choose what channels will appear on your channel page. And, as you can see, YouTube has selected channels for the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, PlaidTV, Peter Curran, Channel 4 News, and UKIPmedia. It’s odd, but Labour wasn’t selected.

SNP on YouTube

In this video, David Walsh explains How To Add A Featured Channel To Your YouTube Channel.


What to Watch For on Election Night 2015

The drama leading up to the UK election night was, for some it seems, as compelling as Game of Thrones. But, the tension was be broken with some comic relief.

The sketch, which was originally featured in Episode 19 of ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’ and aired on November 3, 1970, parodies the coverage of the UK general elections. A day after Mashable published its guide the UK elections, Monty Python’s Flying Circus jumped on the bandwagon, cleverly “curated” content “created” for the BBC in 1970, and published their “Election Night Special” on Friday, 1st May, 2015.


At CTM – we measure and improve a channel’s ability to influence its audience members. We rate each channel from 0-1000 and recalculate weekly from the previous 90 days of data. This score takes into account over 10 different metrics including the following components:

o Reach: How many people and influencers does the channel reach (e.g., views, subs)?
o Engagement: How engaged is a channel’s audience (e.g., comments, likes)?
o Channel Activity: How active is the channel creator in engaging with his fans and uploading new videos?

Contact us for more information.


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