Who’s Winning The Election On Social Media?

Social media has an increasingly powerful influence on the UK electorate. Data Analytics company Crimson Hexagon investigates who holds the high ground as we hurtle towards the general election.

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Social media has an increasingly powerful influence on the UK electorate. Data Analytics company Crimson Hexagon investigates who holds the high ground as we hurtle towards the general election.


Who’s Winning The Election On Social Media?

Social media has an increasingly powerful influence on the UK electorate. Data Analytics company Crimson Hexagon investigates who holds the high ground as we hurtle towards the general election.

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The 2014 Scottish Referendum saw an unprecedented use of social media for engaging and galvanising voters. Although #Yes won the social media war, #No won the Independence ballot vote; but there is no denying the influence and power of social outreach.

Stewart Kirkpatrick, head of digital for the Yes campaign in the Scottish independence referendum, attributed his camp’s 15-20% boost in poll ratings in the run up to the vote to social media.

Now with a week and a half to go to the UK general election, it is unsurprising that social media is taking centre stage once more.

Politicians are using all the tactics to secure last minute floating voters, but the political landscape has changed immeasurably since the last General Election of 2010 and no party can expect to win an election based on photo calls and baby kissing alone. We are witnessing what many are calling “the UK's first truly social election”.

"The ITV leader’s debate on 2 April led to 63,742 posts about the general election"

The numbers speak for themselves. Since January 2015 there have been 1.5 million posts including the words “general election” (as well as variations on this term) across Twitter, Facebook, forums and blogs; this is a 2,206% increase in conversation on this topic.

Thousands are taking to social channels to campaign, debate and voice their opinions and even traditional media is filled with stories tracking social media trends and debating their significance.

Parties have invested a significant percentage of their campaign budgets into social media campaigns, with reports that the Conservatives have spent around £100,000 per month of Facebook advertising, and events such as the TV debates have been amplified by online conversations.

The ITV leader’s debate on 2 April was the most prolific day of social media activity so far with 63,742 posts about the general election. This represents over 12 billion potential impressions on Twitter alone (an estimate of how many people might have seen a particular tweet based on followers or a Twitter author).

But more than just an outreach-and-engage tool both for voters and political parties, social media data can offer valuable insight into the psyche of UK voters.

We analysed some of the key subjects of the election: the economy, foreign policy and Europe, the NHS, immigration, climate change & the environment, and education in order to asses which topics are of most concern to party supporters, what the key conversation drivers are and who are the key influencers leading online chatter.

Climate Change & Environment

Labour voters are dominating the conversation on climate change and the environment, holding nearly two fifths (39%) of the share of the voice, whilst Liberal Democrats are least likely to be talking about these issues.

climate change

The topic wheel below shows the most frequent and prevalent themes in the social media conversation surrounding the environment and climate change. The inner rings represents the most frequently used terms while the outside provides a more granular look at the context in which these subjects are being spoken about.

Interestingly, we can see that one of the most prevalent conversations in relation to climate change is UKIP, not in a positive sense but in relation to climate change denial. Many of those engaged in conversation about the environment also reference the Conservatives, who have 23% of the share of voice online.

topic wheel terms

The biggest influencers on the topic of climate change and the election include conservative American political commentator and author David Limbaugh, English actor Robert Llewellyn and former professional footballer Graeme Pierre Le Saux.

climate change influencers

The Economy

In the case of the economy, conversation is clearly dominated by Labour and Tory supporters who have 44% share of the conversation a piece. Analysis of the topic wheel shows quite clearly that there is a strong correlation between the phrase “ruin the economy” and those talking about Labour suggesting, insinuating ongoing blame of Labour for the recession and the economic state of the country.

The economy share of voice

graph of terms

David Cameron and Ed Miliband’s Twitter accounts are the most influential on the topic of the economy.

social influence on economy


Tory supporters are clearly dominating the conversation on the NHS and have half of online share of voice. However, conversation around the NHS is largely in relation to Nigel Farage and UKIP. Drilling into this further, we see that debate surrounding “foreigners” vs. UK citizens’ use of the NHS and immigration and the NHS are key drivers for discussion. Privatising the NHS is also a major point of conversation, along with NHS cuts.

NHS conversationshare of voice nhs

Despite Lib Dem supporters being relatively unengaged with the issue, it’s the Liberal Democrat official Twitter handle that is the key influencer on the subject of the NHS.

Graphic 9

Europe and Foreign Policy

It may not come as a surprise to see that UKIP supporters are dominating the conversation on Europe and foreign policy, accounting for over half of the chatter (57%) on social media. The topic wheel also shows that Nigel Farage, voting UKIP and leaving the EU are among the most prevalent topics on the subject.

foreign policy debateforeign policy phrasesKey influencers on the subject are:

influencers on Europe


Education is of most concern to Labour supporters who have 52% share of voice on social media. Topics of primary concern include sex education and tuition fees. The topic wheel also shows that there has been a considerable amount of discussion about the Tories in reference to schools and cuts.

education debateeducation key phrases

Interestingly, almost all of the key influencers on social media on the subject of education are national media outlets, and not political parties.

education key influencers

Why should we care what social media says?

Political parties need to harness these kinds of lessons to inform their campaigns and engage first time voters in a way that is relevant and interesting for them.

Understanding audiences on social media can be of invaluable help for political parties trying to win hearts and votes. By utilising social data, campaigners can build up a comprehensive picture of the interests of their supporters.

This insight into voters’ interests can then be used by parties to help them understand how to reach and engage voters, and to inform their media and campaign planning.

Understanding potential voters in this way allows an unparalleled opportunity to ensure that you are appealing to the people that you want to reach, as well as enabling you to monitor where you lie in their conversations.

On 7 May thousands of Brits will take to the polls to decide the future of this country’s government, and while the outcome is still too close to call, it seems likely that those political parties who concentrate their efforts on social media will reap the rewards when the votes are counted.

Crimson Hexagon is an social analytics company, providing social media analytics to leading brands and agencies.

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Who’s Winning The Election On Social Media?

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