Although the election outcome is still unclear, Labour emerges as the Twitter top dog

With voting day finally upon us, the Labour Party has dominated Twitter over the last six weeks, with 25% of all tweets about leader Ed Miliband positive ones, according to new research.

The figures, commissioned by Elect UK, a smartphone app designed by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) to monitor social General Election sentiment, identifies the Labour leader as the clear winner when it comes to overall Twitter mentions.

For the six weeks ending 6 May, Miliband has been tweeted about 693,924 times. In second place, there were 616,357 tweets associated with current PM David Cameron, a total of 296,029 for UKIP leader Nigel Farage and 146,765 for the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg.

Crucially, Miliband has been tweeted about the most positively, with 25% of his 175,180 mentions positive, 24% negative and 51% neutral. Cameron, in comparison, has had more negative mentions (27%) and fewer positive (23%).

The Labour Leader has benefited from the viral ‘milifandom’ trend on Twitter, with young girls, perhaps ironically, photoshopping Ed’s head onto hunky men.

The most popular individual tweets were also dominated by the Labour Leader, who took the top two positions.

His two tweets, one criticising Farage’s views on the NHS treating foreign HIV suffers and the second mocking Cameron for not appearing at one of the leader’s debates, drew a combined 9,295 retweets.

The top 20 most popular tweets appear to back up the importance of influencers, with film magazine Empire and social media brand TheLADbible both featuring in the top five.

Ed Miliband has befitted from the #Milifandom hashtag. [Image courtesy of @coolmiliband]

Ed Miliband has benefited from the #Milifandom hashtag [Image courtesy of @coolmiliband]


But although the Labour dominated the social media platform for leader sentiment, UKIP was the most talked about party.

The far-right party drew in a staggering 945,464 tweets over the six week campaign. However, 27% of those mentions were negative, in comparison to 24% positive mentions and 49% neutral.

Disappointingly for the Conservatives, the party garnered as few as 238,741 overall tweets. Considerably less than the total share of Twitter conversations generated by both Labour (880,873) and the SNP (587,073).

Do tweets translate into votes?

The poor result for the Conservatives could have an impact on voter turnout, according to Joanna Geary, Twitter’s head of UK news & government partnerships.

She told Marketing Week last month: “The volume of tweets and MP mentions will help to shape the overall result, we’re certain of that.”

In a recent study of 3,000 Twitter users (18-34), it found that one in three respondents (34%) have changed their vote from one party to another based on something they have seen on Twitter, while 47% have reconsidered their views on a specific issue as a result of using Twitter.

Geary added: “If you look at the Indian elections, there were nearly no active Indian politicians on the platform but Narenda Modi figured out how to engage with voters on Twitter and it helped him get elected.”

And yesterday (May 6), just a day before voting, Cameron’s party garnered just 12,242 tweets on the platform; way fewer than both Labour (49,382) and UKIP (53,357).

However, David Cameron does appear to be leading the conversation on Facebook, with the PM generating 8.3m interactions from 2.7m people over the six week campaign. A figure more than double Miliband’s total of 3.3m interactions from 1.1m Facebook users.

The Conservatives reportedly spend over £100,000 a month on Facebook advertising in order to secure young voters.

Whether today’s vote totals will show a connection with social media remains to be seen, but YouGov co-founder Stephan Shakespeare is far from convinced.

Speaking to Marketing Week at this year’s Advertising Week Europe, he noted: “I don’t think social will have an impact. That time will come but it isn’t sophisticated enough at the moment and parties are just using social as a cheap way to deliver leaflets.”


How and why brands are tapping into the General Election

Sarah Vizard

Politics is a divisive subject so it might seem sensible for brands to keep their distance, yet a range of companies, from Paddy Power to B&Q and Mr Kipling, have tried to tap into the interest around the General Election. But who has done it most effectively, and why?


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