Question LI Politics & International Relations

How the political parties can use media to appeal to those under 25 years old

How the political parties can use media to appeal to those under 25 years old

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Answer Internal Staff

With advances in technology media usage habits are changing. Young people in particular are increasingly using the internet as a primary source of information. Political parties must respond to this change if they wish to maintain good links to young people, both in generating supporters and in gaining feedback and opinions (EPRSB, 2015).

The most obvious route for engaging young people is through social media; Ofcom (2015) report that 93% of 16-24 year olds have a social media account (alongside 72% of all adults).

Political parties can exploit this channel by presenting messages that effectively capture the attention of young people in this crowded advertising space. Social media success is often attributed to short, simple messages with ‘viral’ appeal, such as the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ (Montenegro, n.d.)

Parties can use social media to provide official information directly to the public, and can also use politicians’ personal accounts to generate closer engagement and humanising communications.

Some examples of successful social media usage are: the UK Independence Party who greatly increased their awareness and support in the 2015 general election (SoTrender, 2015). And, in the USA, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump starting as outside candidates gained significant support through online channels. In particular Bernie Sanders had excellent engagement with young people (Forbes, 2016).

However, it can also be seen that social media success may not translate to electoral success - UKIP gained only one parliamentary seat and Bernie Sanders lost the presidential candidacy. Research by the Reuters Institute (Byrne, 2015) showed that in the UK social media had a limited effect on the election. One reason may be that young people consistently show low turnout in elections – those who show support online may not actually cast a vote. So, traditional media methods such as newspapers and television are still vital channels for engaging all age groups.


Byrne, C., 2015, Getting Engaged? The Relationship between Traditional, New Media, and the Electorate during the 2015 UK General Election, available: [], accessed 07/08/16

Chaykowski, K., 2016, Why Bernie Sanders's Social Media Followers Are More Engaged Than Donald Trump's, Forbes, available: [], accessed 07/08/16

EPRSB (European Parliamentary Research Services Blog), 2015, The Role Played By Social Media In Political Participation And Electoral Campaigns, Available: [], accessed, 07/08/16

Montenegro, R., no date, What the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Tells Us About Successful Viral Marketing, BigThink, available: [], accessed 07/08/16

Ofcom, 2015, Adult’s media use and attitudes, available: [], accessed, 07/08/16

SoTrender, 2015, General Election 2015 on Social Media, available: [], accessed 07/08/16