How films win votes: My election in 6 videos

Labour ran a strong campaign to win 7 seats in May’s local elections. Wandsworth Labour leader Simon Hogg explains how video was a key part of the campaign

The bad news is that we fell just short of winning the council. The good news is that we had our best result for 30 years, we won the popular vote and we now have 26 excellent councillors.

Video was a central part of our energetic and positive campaign. The films were fun to make and really helped us to connect with voters and local members.

Here are the six most important films from our campaign – with the lessons learned from each one. (You can see all of the videos from the campaign here)

1. Wandsworth Labour: Ambitious for everyone
(22,000 views, 125 likes, 34 shares)


What did you learn?

You need a strong narrative, a story you can tell to voters.

It’s tough to beat Wandsworth Conservatives: they’ve been in power for 40 years and they set the lowest council tax in Britain. We wanted to get across a positive message that Wandsworth is a great place to live – but its Tory council has the wrong values. This video explains that basic story to voters. I set out the full narrative in this Town Hall speech.

Repetition is important when you’re trying to get a message across.

Thankfully, video makes this a lot easier. Since the start of this year, Wandsworth Labour’s had around 250,000 views of our videos on Facebook. Thanks to the networks we’ve built, and Facebook’s technology, this content was targeted to people who’d consider voting Labour in Wandsworth.

I knew our strategy was working when other parents in the playground at school drop-off started saying to me: “Your videos are all over my Facebook and twitter!”

 

2. Why I’m voting Labour on May 3
(5,000 views, 65 likes, 31 shares)

 

What did you learn?

Get to know your audience and think about how they’ll consume your content.

This video was released in the final week of the campaign. The idea is to capture the attention of voters who focus on the election late on – and to put across the idea that ‘more and more people like me are choosing to vote Labour’.

Captions and clear graphics are crucial. Initially, we didn’t put subtitles on the videos. Then we realised most people were watching our videos on mobile phones so subtitles and really clear graphics were essential. (The subtitles are usually uploaded as separate files to Facebook so don’t appear on the twitter embeds on this page)

Every election is different. This was the first election where most of our contact with voters was digital. And through mobile phones, rather than desktop computers.

 

3. Battersea Power Station
(30,000 views, 266 likes, 57 comments, 117 shares),

What did you learn?

Production is important – in particular the sound quality.

You can shoot videos for free on your phone. I did with this post-election thank you video. (I used this inexpensive external mic.)

However, like all the six videos here, the Battersea Power Station video was shot by a professional with a high-spec camera and microphone. It makes such a difference. We’re fortunate to have a lot of talent in our local Labour Party.

The Tory council allowed the property developers at Battersea Power Station to cut 250 affordable homes from the scheme. This video helped us to make this a key election issue. It was a real buzz when voters started repeating the 250 figure back to us on the doorstep – proof the issue had resonated.

 

4. EU Citizens: One year to Brexit
(12,000 views, 119 likes, 32 shares)

 

What did you learn?

Let real people tell their stories. The video is so powerful because it’s local people saying exactly what they feel.

More than 26,000 Wandsworth residents are EU citizens.  Brexit was an key issue for some voters.

While face-to-face contact will always be the best way to connect, social media grows every day. We need to go where people are, which is why these videos were promoted on Facebook, twitter and Instagram.

As we move online with our campaigns, voters might thank us for less leaflets: one organiser tells me that in the last election the leaflets he printed would form a pile taller than the Shard!

 

5. Greener, cleaner and safer streets
(12,000 views, 83 likes, 23 shares)

 

What did you learn?

The response to this video confirmed that the environment is a key concern for voters. Our campaign was positive and based on evidence of what residents wanted.

We learned from 20,000 doorstep conversations, plus research and data. It’s tempting to talk about the things you care most about – but crucial to speak on topics that concern voters.

Our manifesto was ‘digital only’ and read by 5,000 people. There was a strong response, for no production cost. Overall, we included more people than ever before in the campaign through use of digital technology. It does remain a challenge and a concern that some people aren’t able to access material online.

It’s helpful to keep testing ideas and keep learning lessons. This video had a script and it went through a few versions before it was ready.

 

6. Donate to help us win Wandsworth
(Raised £2,000 in crowdsourced donations)

 

What did you learn?

We were lucky to have amazing support from Owen Jones and Sadiq Khan throughout the campaign. In this video they join with lots of other Labour figures to ask for donations to win Wandsworth.

This video was pushed out to our supporters. It contributed to the great buzz of enthusiasm and a positive atmosphere for volunteers.

Video was an important part of how we got our message across during the election. It was useful for fundraising, member mobilisation and communicating with voters.

I’d recommend you consider video as part of your next election campaign. Think about what skills and equipment you’ll need and plan ahead. If you can, get someone with professional experience involved. I’m happy to explain more about what we did if you get in touch.

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