Who won the EU social media referendum?
It’s almost two weeks since the UK electorate voted to leave the EU. With millions of conversations taking place on social media before and after the vote we took a look to see who won the EU social media referendum.
The social media conversations have even hit the mainstream media whether to assess the impact of individual politician’s, the respective campaigns themselves or the social media trends. We were interested in the latter aspect: what was taking place on social and could one of the campaigns claim to have won the EU social media referendum.
Using our tracking software, we looked at the volume of conversations pre and post the EU referendum. We tracked the core #EUREF hashtag as well as the two main hashtags on each side of the debate: #Brexit and #VoteLeave for out, #StrongerIn and #VoteRemain for in. We then looked at the topics of 142,000+ Twitter conversations (we tracked two periods: 12th June and 22nd June between 11am and 4pm).
Definitely a social media referendum
There’s no doubt that this was a social media referendum. Throughout May there was a steady stream of daily conversations with between 50,000 and 100,000 Twitter mentions each day between 23rd and 31st May. As the chart below shows, this volume picked up in June as the campaign intensified with 100,000 – 200,00 mentions from the 1st – 13th June.
However, during the final 10 days the number of conversations exploded passing the million mark the on the day of the referendum result itself.
It didn’t end there though. The day after the referendum saw over 4 million Twitter conversations. The volume dropped after this but there were still over half a million conversations on the 25th, 26th and 27th June. After the 28th the volumes fell again but by Friday 1st July daily conversations were still above the levels from the 15th/16th June.
The campaigns and their social media impact
Both the official campaigns were highly active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The table below shows the audiences for each.
The leave campaign had the highest audience. Stronger In’s Facebook audience was slightly larger but this was offset by its lower followings on Twitter and Instagram. So how did each campaign fare in terms of the conversations? We looked at the volume of mentions for each of the four campaign hashtags we tracked. This covered 142,307 conversations (12th & 22nd June).
The pie chart shows the respective share of voice for each of the hashtags. The results were clear. The leave campaign had a 72% share of voice v 28% for remain. The most common hashtag was #Brexit closely followed by #VoteLeave.
Equally interesting is the topics that resonated with voters. The perception that immigration was a key theme isn’t borne out by the social data. A detailed look at the pre-vote conversations shows voters were interested in a much wider range of topics.
The economy was the most discussed topic (15.1%) followed by control (13.86%) and immigration (13.56%). If we group these into four core topics then the economy leads with just over a third (economy, trade & business), followed by sovereignty with 31% (sovereignty, democracy, control) and then immigration on 21.7%. In fourth place was health/welfare on 14%.
To a degree this echoes some of the campaign themes. Remainers’ were building their case around the economy and security with leavers focused on control, democracy and immigration. Whilst the final weeks saw immigration featured heavily in the mainstream media, the social conversations covered a wider range of topics.
Raising engagement with politics?
Our analysis tracked just a handful of the main hashtags. The five terms we tracked results in over 13 million mentions between 23rd May and 1st July. Over 55% of these took place after the referendum as the country digested the impact of the vote. Prior to the vote, it was the leave campaign that drove the lion’s share of conversations.
Whilst some criticise social as the realm of the uninformed, the reality was more complex. The EU social media referendum saw a massive levels of engagement. Voters took to social media digest, discuss and disperse their concerns, views and wishes. Ultimately, that level of engagement can only be good for politics.