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May vs Corbyn Snap Election - Social Media & Online Influence

Author: Hayley Cowburn

Who's Winning the Internet?


It’s 2017 and we’re in the run-up to a snap general election no-one saw coming. Some believe Theresa May is striking while the iron is hot for a greater majority and publicly approved mandate… But are things going as smooth as she may have expected? Will June really be “the end of May”?

Jeremy Corbyn has been lagging in the polls for weeks and labelled a bad leader by some critics, despite the popularity of labour policies in the new manifesto.

We’ve all seen the gap in the polls begin to close… But we also remember how wrong polls can be… *flashbacks to the EU referendum and Donald Trump*…

90% of the UK is using the internet, whether searching for information, socialising or shopping The internet is influencing the majority of us all in some way or another…. So, what is the influence of these budding PMs online? What’s happening outside our own social media bubbles, who’s looking the most “popular” and winning the internet?

We decided to take a quick look at some basic stats from Social Media and the country’s top search engines, to draw our own conclusion.



Social Media

Our findings on social media were surprising. We expected Theresa May’s position as Prime Minister and as a global figure, to dwarf Jeremy Corbyn’s social following. Frankly, many people in other countries probably haven’t heard of Jeremy Corbyn, but we were wrong. 


theresa may social media          jeremy corbyn social media

In reality, Corbyn’s combined Twitter and Facebook following far exceeded May’s by 181%. Either people simply aren't liking May, or this is a sign of generational differences, which become a common these in this report.

Taking Facebook as the example, social media users are predominately within the younger age groups (Statista, 2017) – a cohort which was shown to be less supportive of Brexit and of the tories in previous elections. This could explain why Corbyn's following is greater than May's but does it account for a difference this big?


Shared Content

We checked out the 10 most shared content pieces about May, Corbyn, the Conservative manifesto and the Labour manifesto during May 2017 and categorised them into “favourable” and “unfavourable” content. Neutral pieces were discounted. The platforms included Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+.  

Top Most Shared Content on Social Media regarding Theresa May, The Conservative Manifesto, Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Manifesto, divided into positive (favourable) and negative (unfavourable). 1st-30th May 2017


theresa my jeremy corbyn socially shared content graph 


Amongst the top content pieces shared about Theresa May, zero were favourable and 183,200 were unfavourable. Similarly, the conservative manifesto had 87,000 unfavourable related content shares and zero favourable. Ouch.

The most shared Jeremy Corbyn content consisted of 232,400 shares in his favour and 31,200 against. For content about the Labour manifesto, 264,500 shares were favourable and 47,500 unfavourable.
So, whilst May and her campaign don’t as prove popular with social media audiences, perhaps this a further sign of the younger generation siding towards Corbyn, or a case of May supporters simply not engaging in this type of social media activity.


Search Behaviour

UK Search Behaviour in the past 12 months

For the past 12 months, UK searches for “Theresa May” have dominated, at an average of 450,000 searches per month, whereas 301,000 searches (Avg. per month) were made for “Jeremy Corbyn”. As you might guess, searches for Theresa May were massively boosted following the EU referendum and she has been the most “googled” British politician in the UK since becoming Prime Minister, understandably.





Search Behaviour During the Campaigns

During May, the month of election campaigning, searches for both parties has been on the increase, with peaks around key events such as May’s Andrew Neil interview on the 22nd May and Corbyn’s on the 26th.

In the graph below, it's clear to see the points at which the labour and conservative manifestos were launched (and leaked). However, the Labour manifesto has maintained more interest in Google Search than the conservatives. This ties in with the shared content on social media findings – where the Labour manifesto appears more favoured by the social media engagers.


These graphs suggest that interest the in Theresa May is greater than the interest in Jeremy Corbyn. They also suggest that more of the public are looking into the Labour manifesto than the conservative's. Could this be another confounding variable where Labour supporters tend to use the internet for research more? We looked at some historical data for more clues.


Historical Data

Whilst the most searched for candidate is always the current PM, search trends from previous general election years show a pattern between levels of manifesto interest and the winning party. 


Searches for "Conservative Manifesto" and "Labour Manifesto" During Previous Elections


Each year the most searched for manifesto in the UK is the winning party’s. There isn’t enough data here to real significance testing, but it’s perhaps a pattern to watch for this year.

manifesto graph key

2005-2017 general election manifestos and results graphs


So Who’s Winning the Internet?

This really depends on what you define as winning. If you believe that any publicity is good publicity, then Theresa May is winning in terms of coverage in search, news, videos and articles.

Jeremy Corbyn is winning the popularity contest; with vastly more content being shared in his favour and a whopping social media following. However, this might mostly be a reflection of generational differences between the majority of May and Corbyn supporters.

Perhaps neither candidate is winning, but one manifesto is… As we’ve seen, labour’s manifesto receives more searches, more shares in a positive context and more coverage in the search engines. So, if you want a prediction from us, let’s take into account the popularity of the Labour manifesto, the surge in youth voting registrations and the closing gap in the polls... And if there really is a relationship between trending manifestos and winning parties, then the next government will be a labour one.


 jeremy has a laugh






Data Sources

BuzzSumo. 2017. Analyse what content performs best for any topic or competitor. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.buzzsumo.com.
Facebook. 2017. Jeremy Corbyn @JeremyCorbynMP Facebook Page. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.facebook.com/JeremyCorbynMP/.
Facebook. 2017. Theresa May @TheresaMayOfficial Facebook Page. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.facebook.com/TheresaMayOfficial/.
Google Trends. 2017. Google Trends. [ONLINE] Available at: https://trends.google.co.uk/trends/.
Statista. 2017. Total number of Facebook users in the United Kingdom (UK) in January 2017, by age group and gender (in millions). [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.statista.com/statistics/507417/number-of-facebook-users-in-the-united-kingdom-uk-by-age-and-gender/.
Twitter. 2017. Jeremy Corbyn @JeremyCorbyn Twitter Page. [ONLINE] Available at: https://twitter.com/jeremycorbyn.
Twitter. 2017. Theresa May @Theresa_May Twitter Page. [ONLINE] Available at: https://twitter.com/theresa_may.