Does Twitter matter outside Westminster?
You’re not necessarily talking to a broader audience, you’re talking to a collection of journalists, but you can use it to set the news agenda. I know people have a negative view of the Conservative press feed, but it’s actually very good because they rebut stories. They’re not speaking to the public, they’re speaking to the journalists who follow them. They’re an opinion-former. The SNP in Scotland in 2011 did a very good job of cultivating journalists through Twitter, and they themselves as staff members tweeted so they weren’t hiding behind a veil.
What should politicians be using Twitter to achieve?
The ones that use it best seem to just enjoy it, like Tom Harris. He enjoys having a bit of a ruckus. Don’t have your staff do it. Do it yourself. If it’s just a chore, don’t do it. Don’t send out press releases.
The value is you can have a bit of a conversation with people. You can show a bit of your personality that you couldn’t maybe show even in a local paper. You can say the things that interest you beyond Westminster, show that you’re more than just a soundbite-spouting machine. But tweets don’t win elections, and neither do Facebook likes.
I wouldn’t trade Twitter for organisers on the ground, but there is some value in it to be embraced. You can bring people into you and your party using those kind of tools. You can find people who say, ‘Well, actually, this person seems ok. I’m going to help them out in this campaign.’
Is email dead?
I fundamentally disagree. It’s still the key driver for your campaign. Social media is all useful, but email will drive your campaign. It allows you to have an unfiltered conversation. It’s still a broadcast medium but it can be an engaging one that will drive people to your website and to engage with your campaign.
Are there any email rules to follow?
You need to test different versions. You start by coming up with a subject line that’s interesting, engaging and will make someone open it. You can also use the science to determine what’s most effective.
At Blue State Digital, we often test subject lines. For a bigger email list we’ll send out, in the morning, 20,000 of 200,000 emails. We’ll split the 20,000 into five smaller lists of the same size and use a different subject line with each. We’ll send out five different subject lines and over the course of the day we’ll see what subject line wins − what gets more people opening and clicking. Then the other 180,000 will get that subject line. AB testing is key. ‘Newsletter number 62’ means nothing to anyone. You have got to remember your emails land inside people’s inboxes alongside emails from their bosses, friends, family, bills, so stand out from the crowd.
What makes for an effective subject line?
Punctuation works very well, be it a question mark, colon or other mark. People’s names worked for a while to personalise the subject line like ‘Gregor, have you seen this?’, but now a lot of marketing companies and other people are jumping on the bandwagon. It’s beginning to look a bit spammy.
What’s going to happen with smartphones political communication?
Splash pages. A lot of time you go to a website with a splash page asking you to ‘sign up for whatever’. They grab people’s attention. Mobile-optimised splash pages and sites are going to be more important because people check out sites more often through their phone. It’s less sexy, but it’s important to really be able to use mobile technology.
Bedford & Strand is a basement bar and bistro just off the two roads from which it takes its name. With a buzzy atmosphere, it is an ideal spot for an after-work drink.
What we drank
Vinopolitan Patriarche Viognier white wine shaken with St Germain elderflower liqueur, fresh white grapes, redcurrant and a squeeze of lime.
Vesper Created for Ian Fleming who used it in his novel Casino Royale. Two parts of Sipsmith gin, one part of Vestal rye vodka and a touch of Lillet Blanc – shaken not stirred.
www.bedford-strand.com 1A Bedford Street, London, WC2E 9HH