#GE2017: How important was social media in Corbyn’s comeback


Following the successful use of online platforms in the US presidential election campaigning, it was no surprise that social media was going to play an important role in the 2017 General Election. We thought we’d dig into this a little more using our Consumer Connection System (CCS).

Fiona Booth Fiona Booth Account Director Edinburgh social media CCS

Even with Fake News casting a long shadow over it, social media has become the go-to for political news and opinions amongst younger demographics, the same younger demographics that look like they turned out to vote for Corbyn.

A recent analysis of news and advertising in the UK general election by opendemocracy.net revealed that the most widely shared election coverage on Facebook saw online native news sites and political blogs reaching a larger audience than many strong print and TV news brands.

According to the latest our Consumer Connection System, 22% of GB adults (16+) regularly read the Politics section of newspapers. Unsurprisingly, this is lowest amongst 16-24 year olds (15%) and highest amongst those aged 65+ (32%), with a tipping point around 45 year olds.

23% of Facebook users regularly go to news pages/websites from links on Social Media, but this rises to 27% of Millennials and 28% of 25-34 year olds.

While Political blogs have less reach than newspapers, with only 4% of GB adults regularly reading them, Millennials are 27% more likely to be doing so than the average GB adult as are members of Facebook. It’s worth noting that these figures are based on general behaviour, and that during the run-to the election we cannot underestimate the likely increase in importance of, not to mention traffic to, political blogs as voters look for help in narrowing down their voting options.

Similarly, the political sway of newspapers is really only significantly more important amongst older demographics – according to CCS, the only demographic who were significantly more likely to agree that the political views of the newspaper they choose is important were those age 65+.

So, with the Conservatives having spent £1.2m on Facebook in the 2015 general election, and Labour saying they would spend £1m for this year’s election after being caught short last time round, how influential is Facebook as a political advertising vehicle given that only 59% of the British electorate are members?

According to CCS, half of all Facebook members say they use social network sites for news and to find out what’s happening, rising to 53% of Millennials. CCS also identified that just under a third of both Facebook members and Millennials claim to take notice of ads on Facebook aimed at people like them. While this may not sound like a lot, for both this was higher than ads in national and local newspapers, radio ads, and addressed Direct Mail.

The ability to instantly share content and generate discussion is one of social media’s advantages over more traditional media platforms. According to CCS, sharing recent news is the second most popular reason for sharing content amongst Facebook members (49%) and Millennials (40%). Labour won the sharing battle with Buzzfeed News’ analysis of election-related articles shared on Facebook identifying that stories about Mr Corbyn’s celebrity endorsements were the most shared at around 971,700 times.

Layer over this messaging strategies and the ability to use ‘big data’ to hone your targeting, not to mention grassroots groups chipping in, and it’s easy to see why social media has become the battleground for reaching voters.

Fiona Booth Fiona Booth Account Director Edinburgh social media CCS
^Back to Top