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The Digital Budget Part 2: Searching for a Story

Interesting to type “Alistair Darling” into Google today to see what happens. It’s a preview of what the digital election battleground may well look like.

From a search marketing perspective (marked “sponsored links”)

  • Channel 4 are promoting a TV show
  • The government is explaining the budget through the Direct Gov site
  • The Tories are pushing their view

On the natural search side (the rest)

  • Link to Wikipedia which features ahead of even the Treasury’s own website
  • Wealth of content from newspaper and TV websites
  • Real-time streams from Twitter
  • Videos from YouTube
  • Pictures pulled in from far and wide
  • Evidence at the bottom of page that people are also searching for Alistair Darling’s eyebrows(!)

Comms takeout? Search is incredibly important for discovery of a story. Need to tell a consistent story in an appropriate way across multiple platforms. This extends to traditional media as well as digital. The door knocking, shopping centre appearances, rallies and TV debates are coming in a virtual form to an internet page near you. All parties are finding ways to make their stories work harder and search will be a critical part of this moving through the election period.

The Digital Budget Part 1: Why It’s All About Cider

Never mind the state of the economy, the jobs market or indeed the imminent election — today’s budget online was about cider.

TV producers will be running round preparing evening news bulletins (been there, done that) but are still several hours from going live. It’s more than half a day until morning newspaper readers open print editions to read detailed analysis of today’s budget speech. Meanwhile, online communities have already had their say on the detail. (Of course some of this is on TV and newspaper websites but my point here is that the internet is realtime, rather than on an appointment-to-view basis).

A glance at Twitter shows “White Lightening” (albeit a typo) is now a trending topic. Interesting to see also that Alistair Darling himself is trending — not “budget” or “tax” or “Labour” or anything related, but the man. It’s personal, and the talking points are around the Chancellor and increasing tax on cider.

Looking at conversations across the digital space — from blogs and forums to Facebook, YouTube and beyond — I’ve used Radian 6 to create this word cloud of the hottest topics:

Right now Radian 6 has identified these terms as being at the centre of budget buzz. You can see what’s really driving wider conversation online — it’s cider again, along with discussion around spending (both cuts and increases) and topics connected with housing and business.

Monitoring conversations gives us a realtime view on what’s front of mind, as well as enabling us to identify the most influential players in the discussion. An opportunity here would be for interested parties (be they the Government, the opposition or any other stakeholders) now to look again at their stories and messaging around each of these issues in order to see how they can shape the conversation, using digital tools to facilitate the next stage of the discussion.

Ultimately social networks give online communities a way to examine and talk about every part of the story, however large, however small. Today it’s about cider — and when the election comes you can be sure that internet users, ordinary voters, will examine every detail, regardless of whether the politicians want them to or not.

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