LONDON — Prime Minister Theresa May is outperforming Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on social media despite the latter’s claim that he is “winning” on platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
When Labour MPs confronted Corbyn about the party’s dismal polling at a recent parliamentary meeting, the under-pressure leader reassured them that he was more popular than May among social media users.
However, new research by Impact Social suggests that Corbyn is deeply unpopular with social media users, compared to Prime Minister May who is “steering” opinion on the most popular social media networks.
Jimmy Leach, a digital consultant and former head of digital communications in Downing Street, said in The Times newspaper:
“For those (Corbyn and Nuttall) who were thinking that social media data would show a different picture to polling numbers, they were right, they’re so much worse. On those numbers, fates would appear to be sealed.”
Corbyn doesn’t own the internet
Impact Social ignored posts from journalists and political commentators and focused purely on what members of the public were saying about Britain’s party leaders on sites like Twitter and Facebook.
The research found that more than 225,000 posts centred on Corbyn in February alone, second only to May.
However, just 11% of these posts were categorised as “positive” while 44% were “negative.” The rest were categorised as neutral.
What should concern the Labour leader is not just the large number of social media users who view him in a negative light but the long list of reasons that have cropped up in posts for why he is viewed negatively.
Reasons for Corbyn’s negative perception include:
- His approach to Brexit (32%);
- General ridicule (14%);
- He should quit as leader (14%);
- He won’t win the 2020 general election (7%);
- He is destroying Labour (6%);
- The recent by-election loss in Copeland (9%).
A major part of Corbyn’s relaunch earlier this was year was the use of social media as a tool to bypass mainstream media and communicate directly with voters nationwide, similar to the tactics employed by US President Donald Trump.
Impact Social’s research suggests that this strategy has so far failed to produce any real success.
May does better on social media despite showing little interest in it
May prefers more traditional methods of communication and shows little interest in social media compared to Corbyn’s office. Yet, despite this, the prime minister is generally seen in a more positive light by social media users.
While just 12% of social media posts centred on May were deemed “positive,” a huge 69% were categorised as “neutral” and just 20% as “negative.”
This suggests that although the prime minister and Tory leader is not hugely -popular with social media users in her own right, nowhere as near as many posts criticised her or her policies compared to feedback aimed at Corbyn.
Interestingly, May scores highly among social media users for her presence and performance rather than her policies. The negative feedback she has received focuses almost completely on policy, with 36% being centred on Brexit, 11% on the NHS, and 7% on child refugees.
Twitter dislikes Nuttall
It could be worse for the Labour leader — he could be UKIP’s Paul Nuttall.
Impact Social found that the UKIP leader is massively unpopular on social media. A huge 75% of social media posts centred on him were negative after he failed to win the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election.
Over a third of these ridiculed him for his history of false claims, while 17% centred on his misleading claim that he lost close friends in the Hillsborough football stadium disaster. 15% of posts were devoted to fictional counterclaims like that he was present at the Munich air disaster in 1958.
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