#VoteyMcVoteFace: Social media’s role in the EU referendum

Shutterstock 380564566

The UK government recently ‘enlisted the help of technology companies including Facebook, Twitter, Uber, Snap Fashion and The Lad Bible to generate ideas to boost turnout’ for the EU Referendum.

#VoteyMcVoteFace was the result of this, a concept coined by Snap Fashion’s Jenny Griffith’s to try and encourage voter participation among young people in the upcoming EU referendum.

The idea grew out of the infamous #BoatyMcBoatFace incident, that went viral on social media earlier this year and spurred huge discussion.  The #VoteyMcVoteFace campaign is a direct result of the fact that 30% of under 25’s still need to register to vote for the upcoming referendum by the 7th June.

#VoteyMcVoteFace has had mixed reviews on social media, so we thought we would take a closer look.

Screen Shot 2016 05 31 At 13 41 28

It is hoped that people will post a selfie of themselves with the hashtag #VoteyMcVoteFace to try and create a viral reaction.  It has been forecasted that this initiative will help to encourage an extra 500,000 young people to vote on June 23rd.

There has been much positive feedback to the idea of #VoteyMcVoteFace, as for many it signals an attempt to try and engage younger voters, using a platform that they understand.  With older forms of political advertising becoming redundant in targeting the younger audience, this marks a turning point in how the government and political parties are choosing to engage with the younger audience.

The great success of the #VoteyMcVoteFace campaign is signaled in the level of discussion surrounding the topic on social media.  The hashtag has reached nearly two million people on Twitter to date - clearly an indicator of success.

Whether this will have an impact on voter turnout on 23rd June is yet to be seen but we will be doing some more posts on the run up and after the referendum to analyse the results.

Screen Shot 2016 05 31 At 13 53 57

The key criticisms of the campaign sit with its patronising and out of touch nature.

Screen Shot 2016 05 31 At 16 38 24

The initiative has been ridiculed online, being used as evidence that the government, and particularly David Cameron, do not fully understand the younger generation of voters.  There has been very little use of the hashtag on Instagram, pointing to a lack of success.  #VoteyMcVoteFace has been described as a ‘bloody terrible idea’ and extremely ‘patronising’ in today’s media coverage of the topic.

This said, Jenny Griffiths has argued that the aim of the campaign was ‘to make enough noise to get young people thinking about it… No matter how ridiculous it appears’.  This reinforces the idea that any discussion around the topic on social media will ultimately have a positive effect, as it will successfully prompt younger voters to think about the EU referendum.

Screen Shot 2016 05 31 At 14 32 12

No matter how you interpret the #VoteyMcVoteFace campaign, it signals the increasing influence of social media on political advertising.  It has recently been reported that social media is now more dominant than traditional media as a source of news, and this has become clear with the EU referendum debate too.  More and more young people are turning to social media as a source of information, instead of newspapers or television reports, and this has had wide reaching implications.

In order to speak to the younger generation, politicians have begun to realise they need to do so in a way that young people understand. It is becoming more and more unlikely that a printed flyer through the door would influence a young person to register to vote more than a lively, comical debate on social media.

Ultimately, #VoteyMcVoteFace shows the increasing power and influence social media has in today’s society. We’re looking forward to seeing how the campaign develops online on the run up to the big vote.