The EU referendum on social media: The Leave Campaign

The EU referendum, one of the most important decisions for Britain is now just over two weeks away and the pressure is well and truly on for both sides.

This critical decision will be an age-defining one for Britain and this is why it is so important that the public are engaged in the debate and turn out to vote on the 23rd June.

Both the Leave and Remain campaigns are allowed to spend £7m on advertising and promotion, with a large chunk of this reported to be going on social media spend.  With a lot of people simply disinterested or indifferent to the EU referendum, Facebook and Twitter have become important platforms for reaching out and connecting with this audience.

We’ve had a look at the way the two campaigns are using social media to get their message across.

The Leave Campaign – Facebook

Official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/voteleave/?fref=ts

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Initial impressions

Initial impressions of the Facebook page are mixed.  The key message on the cover photo comes across clearly, with a strong clear argument for why voters should vote leave.  The photos used are somewhat confusing and leave the cover banner looking untidy and clumsy.  The size of the images leave them redundant and it could have been more effective to pick a few, strategic images that really make a lasting impression on the viewer.

With nearly half a million likes on Facebook this shows Vote Leave are having quite a lot of success on Facebook.

Content

Pinned post on Facebook profile:

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Okay, so the first thing that stands out from this post is that it is way too lengthy.  The key message could have been communicated using less text, and would probably have been more effective.  This post is most likely going to appeal to those already convinced of voting leave in the referendum, rather than swaying any undecided voters.

The engagement is good on this post, with over 9,000 shares so this would indicate success.

Latest post on 6th June 2016

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This post is fairly effective, quite positive and focuses on the good qualities of the British economy, rather than the negative effects of staying.  The copy could probably have been kept shorter, with the last sentence not adding much value.

This would be a strong post in trying to convince undecided voters to vote leave.  Again, very strong engagement figures at 7.5k interactions and over 2,500 shares.

One more post

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Another strong and confident post, this time featuring on the argument of a prominent leave campaigner, Boris Johnson.  The image is a good size and fits the post well, with the banner at the bottom reiterating the key message.

Overall, this Facebook post lacks creativity. All the posts are very similar and are most likely to appeal to a similar group of people rather than a widespread audience.  Although highly interacted with on Facebook it is likely that this is coming from already convinced leave voters instead of encouraging those undecided of their reasons.

Twitter:

Official Twitter page: https://twitter.com/vote_leave

With a following of over 50,000 on Twitter it is clear that Vote Leave are very active on their Twitter activity.  We have looked at just the tweets posted out by the leave campaign and not retweets.

Pinned tweet:

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This tweet is highly effective.  The copy is kept short and to the point with only one hashtag that clearly conveys their message.  It appeals to clear economic reasoning for wanting to split away from the EU, and it is a difficult argument to refute.

The use of David Cameron’s older tweet shows the important of always remembering how previous posts can always be rediscovered.  It signals mud slinging slightly however, and again may deter those who dislike this aspect of politics.

The tweet has nearly 1,000 retweets which means it would have reached a large audience and is a strong post in the run up to the EU referendum.

Recent tweets on 6th June:

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A strong post with a good image, that again clearly reinforces the key argument of the leave campaign. The image of the map of Scotland is effective in helping a reader to imagine the scale of the predicted continued immigration by 2030.  The post is directly refuting an idea of the ‘stay’ campaign, and could potentially convert a stay voter.  By mentioning the NHS they are clearly connecting with some of the key issues voters are concerned with in the referendum debate.

Overall, a strong post.

Communication

The Vote Leave campaign has completely neglected interacting with their followers and other commenters on both Facebook and Twitter.  Responsiveness is extremely low and this could be a missed opportunity for responding to questions or refuting arguments.

Engaging with large audiences on a real time basis is of course, one of the key benefits of social media, and potentially a missed chance for the Leave Campaign. In the same breadth, the amount of comments would be hugely difficult to manage and respond to. I suspect their strategy is to ignore for that very reason.

Summary

A strong effort on behalf of the Leave Campaign throughout social media.  Although I have not covered it in this blog, they have also been active on other platforms such as Instagram.  This clearly signals the increasing importance of social media in trying to encourage voters to engage in political debate.

Stay tuned for a break down of the Vote Stay’s social media activity to follow!