How Brexit Party won the social media battle

Written By: - Date published: 8:54 am, July 1st, 2019 - 30 comments
Categories: campaigning, Deep stuff, International, Media, Politics, uk politics - Tags:

There is this fascinating recent article at the Guardian on how the Brexit Party’s success at the recent European Parliament election.  They succeeded by pushing a very simple message, keeping it negative and the use of bots.

From the Guardian: 

The Brexit party used simple messaging, an active social media presence and a “overwhelmingly negative” attack to win the online battle before the European elections, according to a new analysis of the campaign.

Nigel Farage’s party accounted for 51% of all shared content on Facebook and Twitter during the campaign, despite only producing 13% of the content. The analysis, by the 89up digital agency, said the “scale of their success went beyond what we were expecting”.

Meanwhile, Change UK, made up of pro-Remain former Labour and Tory MPs, were the losers of the internet campaign. Despite spending more than £100,000 on 1,000 Facebook ads in the week before the vote, Change UK generated 1.1% of all shares on the platform – fewer than any other UK-wide party.

30 comments on “How Brexit Party won the social media battle”

  1. Gosman 1

    The trouble for the intellectual left is they often times can't help themselves trying to explain why they think their policies are great. Keeping politicians on (brief) message will be difficult to manage. 


    I do agree though that the Brexit party offers a lot of lessons for political parties to learn. 

    • mac1 1.1

      The troubles for the intellectual Left? Here is an intellectual Right thinker!

      "One of the problems that a lot of people like myself we have very high levels of intelligence, but we're not necessarily such believers. You look at our air and our water, and it's now at a record clean. But when you look at China and you look at parts of Asia and when you look at South America, and when you look at many other places in this world, including Russia, including just many other places, the air is incredibly dirty and when you're talking about an atmosphere, oceans are very small and it blows over and it sails over. I mean, we take thousands of tons of garbage off our beaches all the time that comes over from Asia. It just flows right down the Pacific, if flows, and we say where does this come from. And it takes many people to start off with."

      28th November, Washington Post interview, Donald Trump on whether he believes in global warming reports of the 13 of agencies of his administration.       And there's a lot more of that level of intellectual explanations of great policies…….


      • Dennis Frank 1.1.1

        we say where does this come from

        Trump, doing rocket science 1.01 – you pick up a piece and read the label, and it says Made in China, right?  So he cleverly leaves the reporter to figure 1.01 out for him/herself.

        Not so cleverly, he abdicates the global leadership role.  So what if the USA has got cleaner air & water and those other countries are slow to catch up?  Global problem requires global solution, and blaming is just evasion.

        So I get the sarcasm, and Trump has no claim to intellect, but can't dismiss him as a moron like his secretary of state did some years ago.  Says stuff that creates that impression is all.  Dude has animal cunning.  All that hot air about him being fascist/racist never delivered any proof of substance.

    • Dukeofurl 1.2

      Labour went down 10% in the vote , Tories went down 15% to get less votes than the Greens.

      Its not the 'left' who suffered most.

      • Gosman 1.2.1

        You don't think the traditional left in the UK is in trouble?

        • Dukeofurl

          Well the last election with Corbyn  as leader their vote went up 9% , by comparison NZ labour with Ardern it went up 11%.

          Doesnt sound like trouble to  me

          • Gosman

            The last election was before the mess with the Brexit negotiations divided the country more fully.

  2. Dennis Frank 2

    How long has the `kiss' principle been around?  Since the '80s?  So why haven't the left learnt that it works?  My career making television commercials followed years in the counter-culture, so I was constant bemused by working with ad agencies.  Eventually the reason why idiocy prevails became apparent:  simple is good because most consumers are simple-minded.  Same logic for democracy.

    This bit:  "Change UK, made up of pro-Remain former Labour and Tory MPs, were the losers of the internet campaign. Despite spending more than £100,000 on 1,000 Facebook ads in the week before the vote, Change UK generated 1.1% of all shares on the platform – fewer than any other UK-wide party."

    Why the lack of contagion?  I agree complexity of reasoning is part of the answer, but I suspect something more is involved.  Remainers are slowly learning that Euro obduracy is the signal of the problem.  The mandarin syndrome is what the brexiteers revolted against.  The revulsion is becoming contagious, spreading into the left as well now, having already captured the middle.  Time to wake up, Jeremy!

    • Pierre 2.1

      Yeah, the other explanation is that Change UK didn't do well on social media because they just aren't very popular.

      I think a critical and combative Labour campaign could have really rocked the boat. Unfortunately the prospective candidates were stacked with 'remain and reform' figures, and you can't angrily demand change while refusing to question the fundamental nature of the EU.

      • Gosman 2.1.1

        Are you suggesting the UK Labour party turns itself in to a left wing version of the Brexit party?

      • Kevin 2.1.2

        Yeah, the other explanation is that Change UK didn't do well on social media because they just aren't very popular.


        I agree. A look at who they are, and why they are, tells you everything.

    • SHG 2.2

      1. Where are the eyeballs of persuadable people?
      Facebook and Youtube

      2. How do we get our message in front of the persuadable people?
      Pay Facebook and Youtube

      3. What form should our message take?
      Whatever Facebook and Youtube say it should be

      The Left can barely admit point 1, and keeps proving itself incapable of responding to point 3.

  3. Mr Tank 3

    Basically rich over educated lefties don't know shit about selling.

    • mac1 3.1

      What is over education, Mr Tank? 

    • Dukeofurl 3.2

      The Tories came behind the Greens in total vote. Mr Tank doesnt know what he is talking about

      • Gosman 3.2.1

        What side of the political spectrum do you place the Brexit party ?

        • Dukeofurl

          Not the claim  Mr Tankard is making

          • Gosman

            Mr Tank is also not stating ALL right wingers know about selling (which seems to be what you are suggesting thy are stating).

    • AB 3.3

      Yeah – it helps if you despise your audience and regard them as objects to be manipulated for personal gain. Lefties don't understand that.

    • mpledger 3.4

      Maybe because lefties want consumers to buy what they really want rather than be advertised at/tricked into submission.


  4. Pierre 4

    A strong online campaign makes sense for a 'party' which doesn't exist beyond a logo and a marketing team. The same goes for Change UK – fake parties for a joke election. That's something which needs dealing with, how to make use of long-standing work within the communities and on the ground where these new formations are absent.

  5. Muttonbird 5

    Can't help thinking the recent success by the left in this country is because of overwhelming positivity, not overwhelming negativity.

    Why would we want to change that?

    • Dennis Frank 5.1

      Well yeah, but it got produced by more than mere positive thinking.  Actual collaboration between left and centre is what produced our current govt.  Framing it as success by the left misses the point really.

      • Muttonbird 5.1.1

        Dismissing the effect Ardern had on the Labour Party and the election misses the point, really.

        • Dennis Frank

          I didn't.  Ardern organised the collaboration.  Not just mastermind, competent organiser.  Made the center-left govt we have.  Focus on a left victory that didn't happen tempts a critic to recite the numbers from the election outcome.  I didn't.

  6. Lucy 6

    You would have thought the Manchurian Candidate had never been written! The concept of no policies and repeating (retweeting) the same simple words and messages over and over has been round for over 100 years. Governments win when they don't bother with any policy just messaging slogans and sound bits "show me the money", "Lets do this" spring to mind. The left should realise that we don't want to know how something will be done, we want the big ideas that sound like what we want. 

  7. soddenleaf 7

    Tories failed to deliver brexit. Simple solution. Stop brexit, get brexit party to formalize their position, with respect to snafus, and win a referendum again. But no, it's full steam ahead or back, nuance be damned. When did the British forget how to muddle through?

    • Dukeofurl 7.1

      There is a group of die hard remainers/leavers who could mount to  15% of the Mps in parliament. They are in opposite ways killing anything that could be  seen as 'leave/stay"

      As the Tories dont have a majority at all  ( they rely on DUP) they cant move forward or back.

      In practice the  May government  has a leave agreement with the EU, the EU is playing a clever game in not making some small changes as they dont want  britain to be sucessful and leave. 

      Simple as that .  That could bring the whole EU edifice down

  8. esoteric pineapples 8

    Former left wing British MP George Galloway gives a good argument for why Brexit was a workers movement


    • Kevin 8.1

      Jimmy Dore is compulsory viewing for me these days. Great range of guests and he cuts through the BS very well.

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