Does Politics need the X factor?

After entering into an auditorium where I was told the title of the panels discussion was ‘Live sex show featuring celebrities,’ I was pleasantly surprised when the topic was in fact about Politics. The panel, made up of Lucie Cave, Lucy Banks, Rick Edwards, Andrew Bailey and Lena De Casparis, discussed why politics is deemed boring by so many young people today, and how it could be made more interesting.

With more votes being cast in the X factor final than the 2005 elections, it seems that the population today holds a deeper cultural resonance in today’s pop culture than the running of the country. Surveys show that the amount of younger people attending churches, unions and elections are declining, demonstrating a lack of physical group mentality. On the other hand, digital groups such as those on Facebook gain traction.

Amongst talk of politics were some key messages about the use of social media. Maintaining the correct character projection and level of formality is key to ensuring that your social media messages are deemed authentic. David Cameron’s tweet to Barack Obama came under scrutiny when the message seemed out of character and staged, whilst Emily Thornberry’s tweet about Rochester created such a media frenzy that it resulted in her resignation. Social media can be a great tool if the views shared are both spontaneous and culturally relevant – something that pretending to phone Obama is perhaps not.

The importance of relevant social media was further discussed around General Election tweets. The General Election took inspiration from cats and baked beans, using #easybeansy to describe the registration process, subjects which were perceived as being slightly irrelevant to the campaign. Kiss FM also took to social media to create awareness of the campaign, using #useitorloseit to highlight that you have to register by the 20th April. This content was relevant, straight to the point and was a massive success with Kiss FM’s listeners.

So why does politics need the X Factor? The show is a prime example of how public engagement, social media, cultural relevance and accessibility to vote can generate high levels of response. If politics and politicians could incorporate some of these learnings, then hopefully one day the elections will out-vote the X Factor.


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