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April 12, 2016updated 05 Sep 2016 11:28am

Facebook launches reminders for UK May elections as shift to publishing platform continues

News: Tie-up with the Electoral Commission will push eligible voters to sign up before the deadline.

By Alexander Sword

Facebook is teaming up with the Electoral Commission to remind voters to register, in a move that underlines the social media giant’s shift towards becoming an all-purposes publishing platform.

Those who can vote in the upcoming elections in May, which will see a new Mayor of London elected as well as representatives for local councils across the UK, will receive a reminder on their newsfeed.

This follows similar reminder last year ahead of the UK General Election, which resulted in over 15 million people viewing the registration reminder. It did the same with elections in the US and Ireland and the Scottish Independence Referendum.

In a connected story, Facebook also announced changes to its ad policies on 8 April that will make it easier for publishers on the social network to monetise their content.

Verified Facebook Pages can now share ‘branded content’ on the site, meaning text, photos and videos that specifically mention a product, brand or sponsor.

This had previously been against the rules unless Facebook gave direct approval.

It will be a requirement to run a branded post to tag the sponsor responsible, with Facebook also announcing a tool that will make it easier to do so.

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"People will now be connected to more of the content they care most about on Facebook as publishers and influencers gain an incentive to share more quality content — of all kinds — with their fans," said a post by Clare Rubin, product manager and Nick Grudin, vice president of partnerships at Facebook.

As a social platform first-and-foremost, making its business from people sharing their information, Facebook has free access to data that other publishers couldn’t dream of obtaining, including people’s birthdays, likes and dislikes.

As the registration reminder shows, sent only to those who are already 18 or will be before the elections, Facebook can use this information to create targeted campaigns.

With marketers still attempting to adapt to the era of social networks, it is becoming increasingly important, but also possible, to create advertising that is relevant to the person in question.

Another asset the website benefits from is its huge base of users, with Theo Lomas, Facebook’s Politics & Government Specialist for the Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) region highlighting that the over 35 million UK users of Facebook far exceed the number of people who voted in the last General Election.

"We hope through partnerships like this one with the Electoral Commission, we can make sure more people will know how to cast their ballot and have their say," Lomas said.

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