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Last month we attended the first Sookio Social of this year with excitement, the topic: Politics and Social Media.

With things hotting up ahead of the General Election, our first Sookio Masterclass for 2015 looks at how social media is used in politics and people in the public eye to share their values with a wider audience.

Sue Keogh, Director

Indeed we went, thoughts were shared, cider was drunk and ideas were generated, I am left with the task of deciphering my 5 pages of scribbled notes.

So let’s begin with something easy, the Sookio social was hosted in the upstairs function room of the Cambridge Brew House; we were met with a buzzing atmosphere fuelled lightly with refreshing beers and ciders. Already the mingling had begun; faces old and new formed the web of Cambridgeshire’s digital community. We took our seats and let the debate begin.

Organised by Sookio’s founder Sue Keogh and her dedicated team, the panel ranged from politicians to charity workers. The meet up panel included:

Julian Huppert, Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge.

Rhodri Marsden, journalist for the Guardian, Telegraph and Independent newspapers.

Richard Lane, from Scope, formerly from Stonewall, who has also worked on campaigns for Barack Obama.

Rhammel Afflick, Communications and Media Officer for the British Youth Council.

To kick off with, a general consensus was met and continued to influence the debate, Twitter is the dominating platform for politics, perhaps because of the ability to share snippets of information. There was a brief mention of Facebook, Instagram and Google + of which Rhodri Marsden said: “I put something on Google+ once and nothing happened, so I took it down”…

End of. So with that established we moved onto the techniques each of the panel were using to support their own campaigns. Interestingly enough Julian Huppert likes to live Tweet and defers from using pre prescribed party announcements.

I think the whole room silently agreed with the statement that this allows a degree of transparency, which is refreshing in politics. While other panel members agreed that a degree of planning is needed without appearing too synthetic. Richard Lane of Scope added that there is nothing worse than Tweets beginning at 9am and finishing at 5pm, and that some of the most successful tweeting can be achieved in the evening.

It seemed that a common factor for each of these causes was that social media enables snippets of information to be passed to the public which is why Julian Huppert in particular is a fan of the live tweet as Social Media serves as a live feed to his campaign telling the community about events they might not be aware of.

While it is great to have x many followers and those who agree with your opinion, social media is a platform for outreach, in particular the panel discussed the use of viral campaigns. Richard Lane spoke of a previous campaign #rbgf (right behind gay footballers), the use of the tag which caused a stir in the notoriously homophobic football community.

This led on to a discussion about Twitter and the problems that can arise from a faceless comment. With politics being of the sensitive nature that it is, I think everyone agreed that the rule of saying nothing that you wouldn’t say to someone in person is the best guide for social media.

To round off the whole evening we had a few questions from the crowd, which was followed by a good amount of time for socialising and mingling. The meet up seemed a real success; I’m certainly looking forward to the next.