Tuesday, 23 March 2010

#cashgordon, UK election + social media = still not Barack Obama

Gordon Brown and the Labour Party have close ties with the Unite trade union. Unite have donated heavily to the Labour Party in recent years, (many) Labour MPs are Unite members, Unite political director Charlie Whelan is a close ally of Gordon Brown, whilst Unite are behind the current British Airways cabin crew strike. In the run up to an election it should surely be easy for the Conservatives to make political capital from this (?)

Social media could be used to highlight the links between Gordon / Labour and the unions. A Twitter hashtag like #cashgordon and an integrated Facebook campaign could work really well - and aggregating all the tweets into an official campaign site would be even better!

Except it wasn't and all went horribly wrong in a very short space of time - the Guardian gives a full report here. Particularly interesting was the speed with which people realised that tweeting code / links would make pictures appear on the official site.

Bloggerheads / Tim Ireland gives an illustration - tweeting that this:

produced this on the official #cashgordon site:

Tweeting this http://bit.ly/cgNHve produced this result. Grea... on Twitpic

As the Guardian note, things quickly deteriorated with everything from Rick Astley to obscene images and swearing being featured.

Meg Pickard plotted the life of the Cashgordon Twitter aggregator site and uploaded it to Flickr:

Every time the Conservative party run any 'advertising,' it seems to get hijacked by subversive internet users - however in this case it might actually help as the #cashgordon hashtag is still being used regularly on Twitter.

If internet users are going to mash up / ridicule everything you do then maybe negative / attack messages work better in social spaces? As they point fun they also reinforce the point you are trying to make - some are for, some are against, but the #cashgordon message is being repeated by both Labour and Conservative supporters alike.

On the surface this may seem like a #fail, but it is succeeding in amplifying the message that the Tories wanted to get out there. The #fail element may therefore actually result in greater coverage of the key issue.

Is this a sign of things to come?

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