In a digital age of journalism, social media has become an essential tool to engage stable supporters and enhance a following. NME journalist and Cavetown drummer Mia Hughes shares “social media is the biggest reason I have an audience for my work at all, I doubt I would have had any opportunities I’ve had as a journalist if not for my work being recognised through social media.”
As social media eventually progresses to become the most dominant source for news information amongst younger generations, more MPs are taking to platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to utilise their voice and engage with their following around the area.
Data shows that Ed Miliband, former leader of the Labour party, and Rishi Sunak have the most twitter followers amongst MPs around the Yorkshire area, with a 134.8k follower gap between the third most followed MP, Yvette Cooper. Whilst Julian Sturdy, Nick Fletcher and Lia Nici have the least. Despite having significantly less followers, MPs including Nick Fletcher appear to engage more in Twitter than their more popular counterparts. Evidence shows that Sunak has tweeted 405 times in 2020, whilst MP’s such as Fletcher have tweeted 821 times.
The data below implies that MP’s with less media attention, less popular MP’s have to create a platform through social media to help increase their exposure. As the mainstream television, radio and newspaper media focus primarily on the elite MP’s, Twitter is an effective way for MPs to voice an opinion an reach out to an audience.
However, more popular MPs including Miliband make use of online media in other ways. Ed Miliband participates in a podcast alongside Geoff Lloyd entitled “Reasons To Be Cheerful,” and an intense media exposure and presence has led to viral trends such as #Milifandom, created by 17-year-old Abby Tomlinson, with the intention to create an online, celebrity-like fanbase for Ed Miliband.
According to Ofcom, the use of social media for news amongst the public has risen from 44% to 49% in 2019. Therefore, it is inevitable social media and online platforms are becoming the most effective way to politically engage with a youthful audience.