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How much influence will social media have on the General Election?

By Laurna Woods
Wednesday, 07 June 2017

As a marketer, it is interesting to stand back and watch the strategies of political parties in getting their message out to the masses.

Since Theresa May announced the General Election seven weeks ago, our digital team has been monitoring social media, taking the pulse of Facebook and Twitter.

Within 48 hours of the Prime Minister’s announcement, it was apparent that if Twitter follows were Westminster seats, Labour would win the election. But the landscape on Facebook was more right wing – predicting success for UKIP and the Conservatives.

Beyond polling, social media analysis can anticipate public opinion.

You only need to take a look at the campaigns run by Donald Trump and Vote Leave. Both outperformed their opponents on social media, with more fans/followers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, higher posting frequencies, and more fan engagement.

And despite a widespread expectation of failure, both won at the ballot box.

So it’s interesting to note that in just six weeks, our digital team found that Facebook’s position on politics swung from right to left – with Jeremy Corbyn’s team gaining a 60% increase in ‘likes’ (from 541k on April 20 to 864k on June 1).

In comparison, the Conservatives increased their Facebook likes by 5% (from 565k to 595k).

Labour talks more to its supporters on social media, with at least 30 posts a day across its social platforms compared to between 10 and 20 from the Conservatives.

And Jeremy Corbyn’s team gets a greater level of user engagement on Facebook, attracting a daily average of 80-100k in likes or shares, compared to the Theresa May’s posse who get up to 40k.

But that’s not to say the Conservatives haven’t been mounting a strong offensive. Their most popular social media post was this one:

While Labour’s biggest response came from this post:

On Twitter today, the hashtags #LastMinuteCorbynSmear and #SNPBecause are trending – showing that Labour and Nicola Sturgeon’s party are both determined to carry out a strong social media strategy to the very end.

So will Labour’s strong use of social media bring a win in the General Election? We’ll have to wait and see.

Critics point out that Labour attracts more young people, who may be active on social media but less likely to turn out at the ballot box.

And it’s impossible to measure the impact of ‘dark social’, the individually-targeted social media communications which many believe the Conservatives are focusing upon.

Plus there’s always that older, and less vocal demographic, who have been known to form a 'silent majority'. What might they do?

Social media data is telling us a pretty clear story. But will we be surprised at the General Election outcome?

Twitter and Facebook are no doubt a growing influence on the political arena. But it remains to be seen whether they have the sway to change the face of Westminster.

 

 

Take a look at our General Election 2017 infographic here.

For help with digital marketing or social media analysis, contact us on 0800 612 9890

 

 

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