He may not be mayor, but Paddick won the web 2.0 campaign

The also-ran of the mayoral election blazed an online trail for future City Hall residents to imitate, claims Alex Burmaster.

Although, in reality, it was always a two horse race between Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone for the seat in City Hall, Brian Paddick was undoubtedly the star of the social media arena. 

Despite the fact that the two leading candidates shared around 80 per cent of the 'buzz', Paddick was the only one of the three favourites who generated more positive than negative comments in the blogosphere.

So how did he do it? Accessibility was a key part. For example, it was easy to find an email address on his site to write to. For Boris it took quite a bit of hunting to unearth an impersonal 'info@...' address. As for Ken, one had to go through off-putting enquiry forms for contact.

The real difference was Paddick's in-touch use of social media - now a key weapon in US politics for reaching those who traditionally have little interest in elections. Paddick's team employed senior US web strategists such as 'blog father' Jerome Armstrong with key experience and successes in this arena.

Of course, you could see videos on YouTube for all the leading candidates but Paddick's team seemed to have a greater grasp of the potential and simply put more effort into social media. 

Team Paddick claimed to be the first to conduct a UK live video webchat on Ustream.TV, and also claimed he was the first UK politician to take part in an interview using Twitter.

Paddick certainly trounced the others when it came to using the golden child of social networking - Facebook. Search for Boris and it was difficult to tell whether any of the results were actually him, or one of a host of parodies. The only likely candidate when searching for Ken had fewer than 40 friends.

In contrast, finding the real Brian Paddick was very straightforward. Number one result was the 'Brian Paddick for Mayor' page, showing more than 2,300 supporters. It contained information, options and consumer generated posts. 

Although the latter were not all towing the party line, it shows a fundamental thing to bear in mind when tackling social media - you can use it, but you can't control it.

Last week's result aside, Paddick's team certainly blazed the UK political trail online and have created a blueprint for future residents of City Hall.

Alex Burmaster is European internet analyst at Nielsen Online.

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