Social media marketing will play a large role in deciding this year's General Election, according to online experts.
The Conservative Party, the Liberal Democrats and Labour are all expected to make use of internet sites such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Twitter in an effort to garner votes in the election, which will take place on 6 May.
The Obama Effect
Mark Jones from Reuters pointed to the use of the internet in the 2008 US presidential race and thinks that a similar battle will emerge online in the UK this year. He added that observers are already referring to this year's election as "Britain's first internet election".
"US President Barack Obama's use of the Web on his way to the White House in 2008 has inspired British political parties to ramp up their digital campaigns for [the] general election," said Jones.
Both Labour and The Conservative Party employ digital campaigning strategists who will be expected to exploit the medium in the run-up to the election.
Mark Hanson, Labour's online tsar, commented that the internet helps voters get closer to the party: "We want to make them part of the campaign. Some of our projects and policies at HQ come directly from them and it makes them feel a part of it."
Hanson's Conservative equivalent Jeremy Hunt also spoke to the newspaper about the effect the internet is having on voters. He said: "Social media, and Facebook especially, have served as a fantastic tool for recruiting new supporters and getting them out on the campaign trail."