Review: European parliament stepped on the social media path…

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The European election is over… To my surprise, I heard that the European parliament have done some intensive efforts in the social media world to motivate voters with profiles on Youtube, FlickR, Facebook and MySpace.

Did the voters (or you) stumble upon their activity, or get involved in their Pan-European online campaign which was initiated by Scholz & Friends and executed by Aperto, including also a display advertising campaign?

„This move onto online social media, where internet users spend more and more of their time and which have become extremely influential over the past few years, will allow young and first time voters to engage with European issues and help sustain their interest about what the Parliament does, how MEPs work and what the election means for them,“ the European Parliament said.

Now, what I found quite interesting is that the social network with the biggest hype, Twitter, was not a part of that strategy from the beginning obviously. But this is no wonder when seeing the spring survey by Fleishman-Hillard which states that members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are only just starting to see the point of extending their digital presence past having a Web site (75% of MEPs surveyed have a web site).

So, when 62% have either never heard of or plan to use Twitter, then it is not surprising that Twitter was not an integral part of the online strategy from scratch. But when 51% believe blogging or micro-blogging to be very effective or effective in communicating to voters, then this result leaves us with a question mark in our faces.

Their Twitter account was used more to deliver the latest status updates on results. It could have informed some months ago about key political trends, programs, background stories or information that helps understand the changes in Europe when certain scenarios might happen after the election is over – apart from being a communication platform between voters and the EU.

But the campaign aimed at motivating young voters to go to the election – not to listen, learn and share information with the voters (which is the philosophy of social media). The question remains: Why did the European parliament put so much effort in the social networks then and did not stay with the 1.0 approach to the web?

Obviously, the MEPs are also in the ‚change mode‘ from web 1.0 to web 2.0 if we look at some more findings of the Fleishman-Hillard study…
– 24% use a blog extensively but only 26% of MEPs who blog comment on other blogs once a week or more.
– 80% believe websites to be either very effective or effective in communicating to voters, making websites as effective as one-on-one meetings.
– 33% believe online advertising to be either a very effective or effective way to communicate to voters compared to 57% for TV advertising and 45% for print advertising.
– 48% believe personal contact with representatives of groups of voters to be very important or important.
– 32% who blog believe blogs to be important or very important in informing their policy thinking, compared with 17% of MEPs who do not blog.
– 93% use search engines daily to understand legislative issues. 54% use Google.com while 41% use national versions of the same search engine.
– 74% of MEPs visit online versions of traditional newspapers on a daily basis, while 38% visit online EU specialist media each day.
– 65% of MEPs visit Wikipedia style tools at least several times each week to understand legislative issues, while 36% visit blogs in the same period.

Spot On!
Thinking back to the Obama web 2.0 strategy, it shows that the EU parliament is far behind US politics – but at least the EU was trying to catch up. And when I received the PR release about their social media activity yesterday, I wondered why the link to their blog was missing. If it is this one, then it is dead… Why is the question?

The online campaign was meant to motivate 375 million Europeans to go to the election. The social media campaign motivated 66.375 users to join one of the social media communities (Facebook 51.000, Myspace 3.000, Youtube 9.000 and 3.375 – status update 09.06.2009). Talking of a conversion rate (based on a click-rate result) as a superficial measurement for success, we have a result of 0,017%.

What do you think of this result?

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