It was National Voter Registration Day (NVRD) yesterday. It’s unlikely that you would have missed it. The various campaigns designed to encourage people to register, from the Electoral Commission and Cabinet Office, to charitable organisations, generated a huge amount of coverage online; from press articles to multiple trending hashtags. Even Facebook, Twitter and Google got in on the action. And the results were staggering.
Record numbers of registrations
The latest numbers in (as of 6 Feb) show that over 342,000 people visited the register to vote page on GOV.UK with 156,000 of them completing an application. I’ve been told that this is a record, which is not surprising. What’s most interesting is that at least 50% of them did so on a mobile phone. Again, reiterating points I made back in December. The way we interact with users has to change.
How social helped
So the question I was naturally most interested in was the role social media had to play in all of this. Forgetting the impact it has on campaign awareness and engagement metrics such as re-tweeting/sharing - how could social media be used to encourage users to register? Would it work to bring GOV.UK servcies directly into users’ news feeds? And would users want to be taken away from the news feed and actively complete a registration process right there and then in that moment?
Running a small test a week prior to NVRD, marking 100 days to go until the General Election, we worked with Twitter to trial a Website Twitter Card. The data received the following day was pretty impressive. Just under 2,000 people had clicked on the card with 15% of those going through to complete the registration. Yes, small numbers in isolation but when considering how this activity could be built out into multiple Cards, supported by wider campaign/communications activity, then the results are potentially very exciting.
On NVRD itself, we supplied multiple trackable URLs to a number of partners, including Facebook and Twitter. Once again, the data was no less impressive. On our own Twitter feed (@GOVUK) we posted a Website Twitter Card which generated over 900 retweets, nearly 1,400 page views of the register to vote page and over 300 registrations - that’s over 20% of visits resulting in an application.
Twitter Cards run by other partners, including Twitter UK collectively generated a conversion rate of 18%. Facebook, running their own activity in users’ news feeds, generated 85,750 click-throughs - leading to 28,668 registrations (a 33% conversion rate). In fact, Facebook was the top referring channel, generating 38% of total traffic to the service. Finally, there was also a vast amount of non-campaign social traffic through to the service. For example, social sharing links on the completion page of the service were used 2,280 times.
Collectively (and in some cases individually) these are big numbers providing clear evidence that social media, when used smartly can both raise awareness of government services but importantly help users to act - making their lives easier. The activity highlights a potential user need in bringing certain services onto other platforms, helping users access those services (for instance, whilst on the go, via Facebook) which is something we will continue to explore and test.
Working together to make things better
It’s worth adding finally that naturally it helps to have a national awareness day, with multiple campaigns, supporting the usage of a service. However, the success in digital take-up has to sit firmly with the service itself. Without the simplicity of the user journey from news feed through to service completion these conversion figures would not be a reality. A testament to all the hard work of the Cabinet Office and GDS IER transformation teams.
To monitor how the register to vote service is performing right now check out our performance dashboard here.
Follow Georgina on Twitter: @GeorgieC