There is one thing that proved vital in this year’s General Election – and nobody is talking about it.
The presence of politics across social media has clearly had a huge impact, with parties using it as a way of pushing their campaigns, interacting with the public and getting more exposure.
Not to mention all those memes out there.
#GE2017 has been crucial in drumming up support and engaging young people in politics.
As the exit-polls predicted, the result was a hung parliament.
The Conservatives were unable to secure a majority win, 326 seats out of the 650 available, requiring either a coalition, or they will run as a minority government. The only other option for Theresa May would be to call another election.
Let’s look at Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May and how they have used social media since the snap election was announced in April.
Firstly, their followers on social media.
Facebook – Jeremy Corbyn has more than 1.1million followers, while Theresa May has a little more than 420k.
Twitter – Corbyn, who has tweeted 8,120 times has 1.17 million Twitter followers, while Theresa May has just 347k followers, having posted just 282 times.
Instagram – Corbyn has 81.5K followers, and Theresa May 12.9K.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) June 8, 2017
We cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are. Things need to change, and they need to change in four important ways. pic.twitter.com/szq25idIC7
— Theresa May (@theresa_may) June 4, 2017
They have used their accounts to stream live events and to promote their campaigns in the build up to yesterday’s election.
And it’s not just political parties, it’s key public figures and celebrities who’ve used it to show their support.
Social media saw a movement called #Grime4Corbyn launched, with the aim of encouraging young people to vote. Various UK grime artists, including JME and Stormzy publicly backed Corbyn.
Professor Alec Charles is head of arts at the University of Hull, he is the co-convenor of the Political Studies Association’s media and politics group and an author of two books on the politics of social media.
He believes that social media is mainly used to ’cause disruption’ in politics.
He told UNILAD:
Social media’s impact, whether it’s this year’s General Election, or on Brexit or Donald Trump last year – is primarily to disrupt.
Politicians who use social media to try and and influence, tend not to do well.
An example of this is when Theresa May did a Facebook Live – only 14,000 bothered to tune in to that.
What’s interesting with Corbyn, is that his posts tend not to be preachy, he is quoting stuff, he retweets news stories from reputable sources which prompts debate and discussion.
You’ll see with May, a large number of comments on her posts are very negative and with Corbyn they’re very positive.
Corbyn has a 3/1 Twitter lead to May and that wasmt reflected in the election results, but what it means is what we saw from the support on social media was that something disruptive was going to happen, and we have clearly seen that.
We saw the desire for change for young people, which is why we have ended up in a hung parliament. It is all about disruption and destabilisation, not about holding conversation, not doing anything sociable. We saw it with Brexit and Trump, it is not about bringing down elites, it’s about disrupting democratic processes.
And it’s not just the parties and politicians who’ve used social media.
You’ve brought the memes, you’ve brought the gifs, the wit and banter, and we can’t get enough of it.
We’re handing it over to you…
Get ready for 5 years of Corbyn memes! It's happening! pic.twitter.com/X03eoGeSdA
— ? Sam Santala (@samsantala) June 9, 2017
Can't leave the EU if you can't form a government pic.twitter.com/A06ZCbpxf8
— James Felton (@JimMFelton) June 8, 2017
— TechnicallyRon (@TechnicallyRon) June 9, 2017
When you tell your mum you're having a quiet one in but really you're running through fields of wheat with your mates pic.twitter.com/t1teq5qcRR
— Philip (@Ph1lj) June 6, 2017
Call it disruptive if you will, but it has certainly been effective!