Work by Demos and others has shown that social media are an increasingly important venue for political activity and activism, and could be a powerful tool to reverse current trends of political disengagement. This is especially true for young people, who are among the least likely to vote and the most likely to use social media regularly.

Social media are increasingly affecting the way political parties and campaign groups form, organise, communicate and listen to potential voters. They also create new opportunities for NGOs and campaigners to listen and respond to citizens’ concerns, and, through this, reconnect voters to politics. In 2011 as part of the Digital Populism series, Demos undertook its first large scale survey distribution through Facebook advertising, targeting supporters of far-right and populist groups and organisations. This effort resulted in 13,000 responses from members of some often hard-to-reach groups at very little cost.

This step-by-step technical guide has been developed by Demos to harness social media to help turnout campaigns and third sector groups reverse the trend of political disenfranchisement through the use of social media advertising. It explains how to conduct Facebook advertising and Google AdWords advertising using text-based and video adverts, while limiting costs and maximising effectiveness.