Friday, September 13, 2019

Pro-Brexit Posts Dominate On Facebook As The Election Campaign Begins

The UK's longest General Election campaign has begun. The earliest date is 22nd November so we have at least two months of campaigning ahead of us. I had look at some of the recent activity on Facebook to see the shape of the early campaign on the social media platform. What is clear is that pro-Brexit posts gain far more interaction than anti-Brexit posts. The top ten posts on Brexit with the most interactions over the last month were all pro-Brexit posts, the top three are shown below.

Brexit Posts

The top post was by Boris Johnson which gained 178,000 interactions. While some interactions and reactions were negative, the majority were positive as we can see below. We can also assume the 90,000 people that shared the post were supportive.

When it comes to posts about Brexit and 'no deal', posts by Leave EU gain as much interaction as posts by the BBC. Leave EU have over 950,000 followers on Facebook and gain far more interactions with their posts than Momentum and the Peoples Vote combined as we can see from the table below. Leave EU gained almost 3m interactions with their posts in August 2019 and over 2m so far in September (figures are from 13th September). We can expect this to rise as the campaign gathers momentum.

There is evidence that the Conservatives under the leadership of Johnson and Cummings began to accelerate their activity and engagement on Facebook in July. In the last two months since becoming Prime Minister, Johnson has almost caught up with Jeremy Corbyn's engagement on Facebook as we can see below. In fact Johnson has already overtaken Corbyn on average interactions per post. 

In the last two months the Conservatives have come from behind to overtake the Labour Party. In September so far they have gained over five times as many interactions with their posts on Facebook as the Labour Party. 

The increased levels of Facebook activity from Johnson and the Conservatives in the last two months may reflect their early election strategy which has now been stymied by Parliament. A later election gives the opposition parties time to develop their Facebook strategies and to invest in Facebook advertising. 

Facebook is just one social media platform and it has a relatively older user base but it will be interesting to see how the election plays out on the platform on Brexit and on other key issues that emerge. In the 2017 election posts about issues such as fox hunting, school meals and the ivory trade gained hundreds of thousands of interactions.