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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 21 October, 2014

One million tweets: Here’s how social media was used to encourage people to vote

One in five potential voters were reached by Facebook’s “I voted” button which was shared more than 2.7 million times.

Image: Pietro Naj-Oleari/European Parliament

THE ELECTION MADNESS is well over but this week the European Parliament had a look back at how successful its social media strategy had been in getting people interested in the election,  keeping their attention and most importantly, getting them to vote.

The parliament said that social media provides an opportunity to communicate with young people, who often decide not to vote. However a video about a young voter on his way to the ballot box was watched more than 2.5 million times in a matter of weeks on Youtube and Facebook. The parliament’s official elections video also proved a hit, as it was watched more than 11 million times.

A special blog was maintained as results came out from across the European Union and a Twitter dashboard showed the trends as they developed.

In total, from 19 to 25 May, the #EP2014 hashtag was used in more than one million tweets to discuss the elections.

On 25 May, the dashboard above was projected in the parliament’s chamber and was used online more than 15,000 times.

To promote the elections, Twitter displayed an elections banners calling on its users to vote, which was the first time they had ever done this. The message was visible to everyone accessing their Twitter account through a mobile device on elections day, apart from people living in the UK and the Netherlands.

Facebook also supported the elections by launching an “I voted” button, which was first used during the 2008 US elections.

This allowed voters to tell people they participated and encourage friends and family to join. The message was shared more than 2.7 million times and seen by one in potential five voters in the EU -nearly 90 million people.

Two apps were also developed by the parliament for Facebook. One allowed people who voted to share virtual balloons and sent them on a trip around the world. The longest balloon trip notched up more than 260,000 virtual kilometres, equivalent to travelling more than five times around the earth.

Another application – A Taste of Europe – invited people to vote for their favourite European dish and organise a dinner on elections night. Bulgarian shopska salad won the title of Europe’s most popular dish with some 20,000 votes, ahead of Lithuanian beetroot soup.

Even Google got in on the action, turning its famous logo above the search window into a blue ballot box with yellow stars on it.

In total, just over 43 per cent of people in Europe voted in the elections with turnout in Ireland estimated to be above 50 per cent.

Read: Here are 10 things we’ve learned from the 2014 European elections>

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