web analytics

The UK Social media political arms race

Written By: - Date published: 7:56 am, November 19th, 2017 - 8 comments
Categories: election 2017, greens, International, internet, interweb, jacinda ardern, Jeremy Corbyn, labour, Media, national, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, twitter, uk politics - Tags:

I read an interesting article written by Robert Peston and published in the Spectator recently. It was about the use of social media by the big parties in the United Kingdom, and that Labour was winning this particular battle convincingly.

From the article:

There is a naive belief at the top of government that because the Tories are only a fart’s yard behind Labour in the polls — despite daily manifestations of schism, scandal and incompetence — everything will turn out fine in the end. But this is to ignore the party’s greatest structural weakness: it is clueless in cyberspace. On the social media battlefield, it is fighting with knitting needles against Labour’s laser-guided missiles.

The crude stats are humiliating for Theresa May. Her Twitter and Facebook accounts have 411,000 and 540,000 followers respectively, compared with 1.6 million and 1.4 million for Jeremy Corbyn. His online films and tweets are seen by millions, — many times the number who hang on the Prime Minister’s digital words. This social media deficit will be a serious problem for whoever leads the Conservative party into the next general election because that is where the marginal voters who determine the outcomes of elections and plebiscites are recruited or alienated. David Cameron’s lame jibe from 2009 that ‘too many tweets make a twat’ is redolent of another era, laying him open to the twin charge of casual sexism and techno-politics Luddism.

The equivalent statistics in New Zealand are that Jacinda Ardern has 141 thousand facebook likes and 113 thousand twitter followers. Bill English has 118 thousand facebook likes and 29 thousand twitter followers.  Ardern is ahead although English is not so far behind.  The difference is significant however.

Interestingly Chloe Swarbrick has 34 thousand facebook likes and 14 thousand twitter followers.  She also had more facebook likes than Phil Goff during the last Auckland super city mayoral campaign which given her limited resources was a phenomenal feat.  Clearly she is someone who understands social media.

The data from during the recent UK election campaign clearly showed the momentum that Corbyn was enjoying:

According to Labour’s own stats, ‘likes’ of Corbyn’s page rose 31 per cent during the campaign, to 1.2 million, with the number of people he reached every week soaring from under four million to more than 24 million. And his videos were seen 22 million times in the first week of June, up from 2.5 million in April. Which probably means that the Labour leader personally on social media outperformed May in impact by a factor of more than two to one. As for the Labour party as a social-media player in its own name, it also punched through to far more people than did the Tories. According to the social media agency We Are Social, Labour increased its social media following by 61 per cent to 868,000 in the first six weeks of the battle, compared with 6 per cent to 596,000 for the Tories.

Facebook likes in New Zealand has Labour ahead of National by 103 thousand to 92 thousand likes and for twitter the numbers are Labour 31 thousand and National 15 thousand.

And why is this important?

What matters perhaps most is that a majority of us mistrust the established media, and instinctively place greater trust in what friends or contacts share with us on Facebook and Twitter. The act of sharing is a personal endorsement, which lends an article or video greater credibility. Throughout this year’s election, this massively helped Labour: all I could see in my own news feeds were people angry about the government failing to provide adequate resources to schools and hospitals, or furious about its proposal to make old people pay more towards their own social care.

So Labour’s greatest advantage over the Tories may be that it is part of a broader movement, much of it on social media. There are lots of closed Corbyn-supporting Facebook groups that share pretty much anything he puts out. And then there is Momentum, a movement explicitly created to support him.

Its social media activity complemented Labour’s, and the Tories had no equivalent. One of its videos, ‘Daddy, why do you hate me?’, a conversation between a little girl and her dad set in 2030 about why he had voted for Theresa May and ruined her life prospects, was watched 5.4 million times in two days. Momentum also fomented ‘WhatsApp cascades’ on polling day, or messages shared on WhatsApp with an estimated 400,000 young people that were designed to get the vote out. For what it’s worth, all the successful digital media players, Momentum and Vote Leave for example, have noticed that WhatsApp and text messages are vastly more efficient ways of communicating than emails, which tend to be treated by recipients as junk and ignored.

I agree that the Tories’ social media was ham fisted.  In New Zealand it was not so bad, rather lame but not so bad.  Although Labour’s and the Greens’ social media campaigns were clearly better and from a point of pending disaster two months out from the election helped to create a Labour surge and arrest the Greens’ decline.

Social media is not the be all and end all.  Social media bubbles are the biggest creators of wasted campaigning times there is.  For a campaign to succeed it needs to cut through out of bubbles of friendly progressives and make its way into other groups.  Corbyn’s social media is an example of what to do.

Update:  Added the link to the article,  Not sure how I missed that out …

8 comments on “The UK Social media political arms race”

  1. Sparky 1

    Yes Labour in the UK seem to be doing better but then its not hard when the Tories are making such a pigs ear out of their time in office.

    What is concerning is the presence of 90’s style “New Labour” inside this party. Its far from being Corbyn’s party. What does this mean for UK Labour is hard to say but if they fail to deliver on their promises to voters they may find social media can be a good friend but a worse adversary. Something the current NZ Labour led govt should keep in mind.

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/nov/11/blairies-brownites-corbyn-refuseniks-where-do-the-new-labour-tribes-go-now

  2. One Two 2

    Unfortunate war reference in the title

    Digital media is NOT the frontline of political ‘anything’ except deceit..

    5-10 years and the mirage of social media is done…

    • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1

      War is practiced by deception, so if social media is a vehicle for deceit, the reference is entirely apt.

  3. carlite 3

    Social media has less and less to do with popularity now and more to do with how well-manicured the posts are, and how much money is thrown at them. Now that Labour is in government, it would be surprising to see them drop below National’s figures, now that they have the parliamentary service publicity to help them.

  4. greywarshark 4

    Well managed social media should give the recipient the feeling that they are up with the vanguard and if they want change then they will be informed of what new stuff is being released along with headlines to the media. They will feel they count, they are not apathetic, they can get informed and be asked for opinion. it is getting closer to participatory not representative government. When people are used to not thinking, haven’t got the fire or the confidence to ask for more, then they have to be counselled in how to do it.

    If Labour wants to reach those people, they could start running assertiveness and goal planning classes. Then they keep them on side as people who think, Why, and What if, and Could this work better and way-to-go. And communicate with the people who have done their workshops so they practice their new skills on standing up and presenting themselves and their ideas. Otherwise we get the wise-guys at the top telling the others, go on strike, don’t go on strike, we know best, ask for double and you’ll get what you want and other ploys. It’s important to work out new ploys and try to do so rationally so they work for the good of all.

  5. Philg 5

    MSM is in a steady decline, along with public trust…. Social media influence, with the young folk is steadily growing. A case of buyer beware. I await the blurring of MSM with social media.

  6. bwaghorn 6

    had tea with a kiwi who’s been in the uk for 30 years , he couldn’t stand corbyn until corbyn started getting air time , thinks he’s the be’es knees , and intends to vote uk labour next time after voting tory for 30 years, also reckons the muppet boris will be leader of the torys before the next election . he believes there will be an election in the near future, no idea if he knows what hes talking about.

  7. DS 7

    This is more important in the UK than New Zealand, because the Murdoch Press plays such a larger role there – basically, social media allowed Corbyn to bypass the newspaper hatred.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

No feed items found.

  • Minister of Defence to visit counterparts in US and Canada
    The Minister of Defence, Ron Mark, departed today for the United States and Canada where he will meet with his counterparts.  While in Canada Minister Mark will meet with his counterpart, Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan.  “New Zealand and Canada are close friends, and share an instinctive like-mindedness on ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 hour ago
  • Government to deliver family carers $2000 pay rise, expand scheme to spouses this year
    The Coalition Government is delivering this year the changes to Funded Family Care the disability sector has long-asked for, says Associate Minister of Health Jenny Salesa. “Today we are announcing the details of our big changes to Funded Family Care, including an annual average pay boost of $2,246.40 for funded ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    23 hours ago
  • Ko te reo kua mū: Piri Sciascia
    Minister for Māori Development Nanaia Mahuta joins te ao Māori in their sorrow as they learn of the loss of one of the great orators and spokespersons of a generation – Piri Sciascia.  “The son of Pōrangahau was a staunch advocate for Māori development and served his people for over ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Minister opens new ecosanctuary at Cape Farewell
    A new ecosanctuary with a predator proof fence on Golden Bay’s Cape Farewell, which will restore a safe home for sea birds, rare native plants, giant snails, and geckos, was officially opened today by the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage. “There has been a fantastic community effort supported by the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Pacific partners work together to provide additional support to Australia
    The NZDF continues to support the Australian Defence Force (ADF) as it battles fires in Victoria and New South Wales, including by transporting Republic of Fiji Military engineers from Nadi to Australia, announced Defence Minister Ron Mark. On Saturday morning a NZDF Boeing 757 will depart New Zealand to uplift ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Kaikōura $10.88 million boost in tourism & business
    The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is investing $10.88 million to boost business and tourism opportunities in Kaikōura, Parliamentary Undersecretary for Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau announced today. As part of the Kaikōura Marina Development Programme, the following two projects will receive PGF funding: A $9.88 million investment to begin the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Govt accounts in surplus, debt remains low
    The Government’s books are in good shape with the accounts in surplus and expenses close to forecast, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. The Treasury today released the Crown accounts for the five months to November. The operating balance before gains and losses (OBEGAL) was above forecast by $0.7 billion resulting ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Auckland focus for first Police graduation of 2020
    The number of Police on the Auckland frontline is increasing with the graduation today of a special locally-trained wing of new constables. Police Minister Stuart Nash says the graduation of eighteen officers from Recruit Wing 333-5 means that more than 1900 new Police have been deployed since the Coalition Government ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Wairarapa gets $7.11m PGF water boost
    The Provincial Growth Fund is putting $7.11 million into creating a sustainable water supply for Wairarapa, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau announced today. The following two projects will receive Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) funding: A $7 million investment in Wairarapa Water Limited for the pre-construction development of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Progress with new Police station in Mahia
    Community safety and crime prevention in the East Coast community of Mahia has moved forward with the opening of a new Police station to serve the growing coastal settlement. Police Minister Stuart Nash has officially opened the new station, which was relocated almost 20 kilometres along the coast from the nearby ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Plans to protect the future of whitebaiting announced
    With several native whitebait species in decline the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage has today released proposals to standardise and improve management of whitebait across New Zealand. “The need for action for a healthy whitebait fishery has never been greater,” Eugenie Sage said.  “Four of the six whitebait species are ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • New resource for schools to increase awareness and understanding of climate change
    A new Ministry of Education resource available for schools in 2020 will increase awareness and understanding of climate change, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “The resource, Climate Change – prepare today, live well tomorrow, will help students understand the effects of climate change at a local, national and global ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Getting more out of our most productive firms
    Finance Minister Grant Robertson has approved the terms of reference for an Inquiry into the economic contribution of New Zealand's frontier firms. Frontier firms are the most productive firms in the domestic economy within their own industry. “These firms are important as they diffuse new technologies and business practices into ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • NZDF sends more support to Australia
    The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is sending an Environmental Health Team, a Primary Health Care Team and a Chaplain to Australia, boosting New Zealand support for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) as it battles bush fires in Victoria and New South Wales, Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today. The ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand joins partners in calling for full investigation into air crash in Iran
    Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Rt Hon Winston Peters says that developments suggesting a surface-to-air missile is responsible for the downing of the Ukrainian International Airlines flight in Iran is disastrous news. “New Zealand offers its deepest sympathies to the families of the 176 victims. It is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Staying connected to Australian agriculture
    Agriculture Minister, Damien O’Connor, says the Ministry for Primary Industries is continuing to stay connected to federal authorities in Australia as devastating fires affect the country.  “The Ministry is using an existing trans-Tasman forum for discussions on the agricultural impact of the fires and the future recovery phase,” says Damien ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Investment in schools – a commitment to communities
    Thousands of school-age children, their teachers and wider communities are benefiting from the Government’s multi-million dollar investment upgrading and renewing schools, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “We want New Zealand to be the best place to be a child and that means learning in warm, comfortable and modern classrooms,” ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand Defence Force sends support to Australia
    Minister of Defence Ron Mark today announced New Zealand is sending three Royal New Zealand Air Force NH90 helicopters and crew, and two NZ Army Combat Engineer Sections as well as a command element to support the Australian Defence Force efforts in tackling the Australian fires.  The New Zealand Defence Force ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Better access to books for blind and low vision citizens on World Braille Day
    "Today is World Braille Day and I am delighted to announce that an international treaty giving blind and low vision New Zealanders access to books and literary works comes into force today,” Minister for Disability Issues Carmel Sepuloni announced today. “Today the Marrakesh Treaty and the associated amendments to the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand to send further firefighter support to Australia
    The New Zealand Government is sending a further 22 firefighters to help fight the Australian fires. “The devastation caused by these fires is taking a substantial toll on our Australian neighbours and we will continue to do what we can to assist as they deal with this extremely dynamic, dangerous ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Reducing the cost of education
    Twenty-two more schools have opted into the Government’s policy of providing $150 per child to schools who don’t ask parents for donations– bringing the total number of schools in the policy to 1,585. The Ministry of Education has accepted late opt ins past the November 14 deadline from schools that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Road deaths lower in 2019, but still more work to do
    “As we enter the new decade, my thoughts are with the families, friends and communities of the 353 people who lost their lives in road crashes last year. While the number of deaths is lower than in 2018 (377), this is still a staggering loss of life,” Duty Minister Iain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • PM congratulates New Year 2020 Honours recipients
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has congratulated the diverse group of New Zealanders recognised for their contributions to the country and their communities in the New Year 2020 Honours List.   The list of 180 honours recipients includes three Dames and three Knights Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Justice Minister congratulates first Māori Supreme Court judge on New Year’s Honour
    Justice Minister Andrew Little has congratulated The Honourable Justice Joe Williams for receiving a knighthood for services to the state. Sir Joe Williams has been appointed as a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year 2020 Honours List. “Sir Joe Williams has made an ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • New Year honours for top sportspeople
    Twenty-one of New Zealand’s top sportspeople, coaches and leaders in the sporting community have been recognised in the New Year 2020 Honours List. The Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua has been made a Dame Companion and the former All Blacks Steve Hansen has been made a Knight Companion of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Leading architect of Zero Carbon Bill honoured
    It’s great to see ordinary New Zealanders doing extraordinary things, Minister for Climate Change James Shaw today said in response to the news that Lisa McLaren is included in the New Year 2020 Honours List for her exceptional work leading the campaign for the Zero Carbon Bill. Lisa McLaren was ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Social entrepreneurs and innovation leads Pacific contribution
    Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio says the New Year 2020 Honours List highlights the valuable contribution Pacific social entrepreneurs and innovators make to New Zealand, the Pacific region and the world. “The standout common factor that underlines their contribution to Aotearoa is the value they place in their ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Service to birds and bush recognised in New Year Honours
    Decades of dedication to Aotearoa’s unique birds, landscapes, and native eels is recognised in the New Year 2020 Honours List said Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage. “I’m delighted that the decades of dedication to conservation, and fantastic leadership in giving nature a helping hand is being acknowledged,” said Eugenie Sage. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago