Pretty Simple: web, digital, social

Last year we won a number of accolades for our use of social media to promote the 2009 Scottish Youth Parliament elections. I blogged at the time that we would be ramping up our efforts for the 2011 elections campaign, and I’m delighted to say we’ve won further recognition for that work.

Elections banner saying "Make Your Vote Count!"

The campaign has scooped the award for “best use of social media by a public sector organisation”, as well as being shortlisted for “best use of social media by a non profit/charity organisation”, at the Some Comms Awards 2011 in Manchester last week. It also bagged the “Grand Prix” award, singling it out as the “best of the best” of all the entries.

Some of the things we introduced or improved for 2011 included:

YouTube videos of the candidates’ manifestos on a dedicated YouTube channel embedded on the elections page of the Council website, along with text versions. YouTube was also used earlier on in the campaign, to help generate interest amongst potential candidates.

A SYP candidate presents her video manifesto

SYP candidates presented their manifestos on YouTube

An interactive map of polling stations, including a “find your nearest” postcode search. This made it very easy for potential voters to find out where they could vote in over 50 different locations across the city.


An interactive map of polling stations

A strongly branded presence both online and offline, to catch the eye and imagination of young voters.

Elections banner

Strong branding played a vital role

A Facebook page for posting candidate photos and written and video manifestos, allowing people to become fans and to share with online friends. There was also a competition to win an iPod if people became a fan of the page, and even a QR code linking to the page for use on related printed material.

The campaign's Facebook page.

A Facebook page pulling everything together

Huge success

In 2009, 18 candidates stood for 11 seats and 5019 young people voted.
The 2011 objectives were to:

  1. increase the number of candidates to 24.
  2.  increase the number of voters by 50%.
  3. ensure number of candidates is more than one in all constituencies to guarantee competitive election

These were ambitious targets, as the 2009 campaign had already seen an unprecedented increase in the number of voters. However, the 2011 results spoke for themselves:

  1. Initially had 31 registered candidates of which 26 stood for election, equalling a 44% increase.
  2. Voting more than doubled from the previous election with 10,228 young people voting – a 104% increase.
  3. Each constituency had three or more candidates with one boasting seven.

Team effort

As with the 2009 campaign, this was a real team effort, with colleagues from across the Council and our partner, Stevenson College Edinburgh, pulling together the various strands of the campaign. And of course the young people themselves played the most vital role, working so hard and bringing so much enthusiasm to the process.

It’s another good example of the power of social media to reach out to audiences, to empower citizens and to excite interest in important issues.

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2 Responses to Social Media awards for revamped youth parliament campaign

  1. Ben Millard says:

    Wewt! I can be the first to congratulate you. :D

    It’s truly uplifting to see digital work being given the resources and environment to be done well. The positive results that eables really speak for themselves. It’s resoundingly proven by your team’s well-earnt success, all the same!

    Might I be so rude as to ask how much all the digital stuff for this campaign cost? A rough ratio of how much was done by Council resources compared with private sector would be interesting, too. Video can be a particularly specialist field, in my experience.

    • James says:

      Cheers Ben!

      It was mostly done in-house or with partners (e.g. local colleges) and as far as I know, the main cashable expense was a small amount on Facebook advertising. That was one of the things the judges of the awards picked up on – great results for practically no budget. Of course, there would have been a fair amount of time spent on it which shouldn’t be discounted – too many people assume social media is ‘free’ and forget that element of it.

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