Ed Miliband looks to boost engagement with new site and plans for Conference Twitter Q&A

Ed Miliband is making a play to become the best connected party leader with the launch of a new website that puts the emphasis squarely on engaging with members and the public.

The site, which replaces the one first developed during last year’s Labour leadership race, comes a week after Ed Miliband launched onto Google+ and before the party’s conference kicks off on Sunday.

According to those behind it, what Ed Miliband was most keen for the site to be was not just a way of conveying information, news updates and video, but as a way of engaging with members and the public and being a much more personal site.

In keeping with this ways to get in touch with Ed Miliband are featured at the top of the site with “get in touch with Ed” as well as getting email updates from him.

As well as news and video updates the team behind the site have made sure that social media features prominently.

This includes #Askedm which is the hashtag used for Ed Miliband’s regular Twitter Q&A’s.

On the new site the #Askedm features at the top and aggregates previous chats, which have proved very successful for the Labour leader and have trended in the UK.

The #Askedm is to be continued at Labour Party’s conference. Ed Miliband will take questions via Twitter and answer them as part of a Q&A that will also include pre-recorded video questions from members of the public who have also been invited to attend the event at the ACC in Liverpool.

Unlike other party leaders, Ed Miliband does take some time to respond directly to tweets sent his way, others are answered by his team, and if you look back through his Twitter stream you can see evidence of him responding directly and occasionally retweeting.

That’s in contrast to David Cameron who has never ventured onto Twitter and Nick Clegg’s stream is infrequently updated and full of press statements such as this one: “This morning I gave a speech on the economy to London School of Economics”.

You get the impression that if you tweet something at Ed Miliband he will at least read it and he might respond. Or if he doesn’t one of his team might speak to him and respond on his behalf. There are, as with Twitter generally, no guarantees.

What there isn’t at the moment is an official team Ed Miliband Twitter policy. The team instead says it has an organic approach rather than a strict answer everything.

I would personally think about having a Twitter policy if he wants to take that engagement further and make the connection deeper.

A source close to Ed Miliband said: “The redesigned webpage makes it much easier for people to engage using email and social media with Ed. Facebook, Twitter and now Google+ are giving Ed a real edge over the other party leaders, because of the way he uses the sites. It’s not just about broadcasting his views to the world, it’s about making the effort to listen and reply to people as well.

“That’s going to be more and more important in the years ahead.”

The banner at the top of the new site has a nice technical aspect. It pops out to reveal a video message from Ed Miliband and as it fades it asks people if they would like to sign up for updates to Facebook, Twitter and Google+ and does that without taking them away.

With just under 95,000 followers and doing tweeting of his own, plus posting on Google+, Ed Miliband does live up to his team’s claim that he genuinely sees digital and social media as a way to authentically engage rather than it simply being part of a communications strategy.

That’s interesting as obviously we have heard so much about the use of digital media by Barack Obama and his team, and how well it has worked for them, and you can see that reflected here. It will obviously be more interesting to see if it continues as the next four years count down.

Ed Miliband launches new website.

It is a vast improvement on the old site that you can see below.