#GE2017 - Who Won the Social Media Battle? [Part Two]

In this second part of my analysis, I take a look at how the waning influence of traditional media outlets such as The Guardian, The Telegraph and The Sun laid the groundwork for independent blogs and Facebook pages to make the biggest mark upon the election.

Away from the one-sided social media battle between Corbyn and May, we also saw a deluge of election coverage from national and local publications. But, as if to accentuate the move of UK politics into the digital age, the most-shared articles throughout the campaign were not from massive media conglomerates, but from bedroom bloggers and independent news sites.

Traditional Media

Media research company Kaleida have provided an extremely revealing insight into the social media behaviour of voters in the run-up to the election. Their list of most-shared content during the election is dominated by pro-Corbyn articles, and although that is perhaps not so surprising given my previous analysis, what is surprising is the absence of the 'mainstream media' from that list. The Guardian's most popular article on the launch of the Labour manifesto had 60,718 shares, whilst The i's feature on Corbyn-supporting soldiers fighting in Syria received 63,581 and the Huffington Post's video of Jamie Oliver's criticisms of Theresa May lagged slightly behind with 60,215. 

Articles supporting Theresa May were way down the list, with the most widely-shared articles from right-leaning publications including The Telegraph's 'Jeremy Corbyn said Isil supporters should not be prosecuted for 'expressing a political point of view' (48,638), Theresa May: I will not let Human Rights Act stop me bringing in new anti-terror powers (24,878) & Breitbart's Morrissey Rips British Politicians after Manchester Attack: 'Petrified' to Admit Islamic Extremism Behind Terror (24,856) featuring as the three most popular.

Intriguingly, all of these articles were outperformed by increasingly influential bloggers.

New Media

Heading the list, and by some distance, is the article entitled 'How many of Jeremy Corbyn's policies do you actually disagree with?' that appeared on the Another Angry Voice blog and was shared 102,655 times. Distilling a lengthy manifesto into shareable bullet points - and broadly supportive of Corbyn - means that it's no great wonder why this had such a huge response online. The author included a footnote at the bottom of the article to say it had received 'well over 1 million hits in 3 days', so we can only presume that the current total is significantly higher than that. Elsewhere, (another) Another Angry Voice blog entitled Why you need to speak to someone who works in the NHS was 2nd with 85,045 shares, and an article written by another left-leaning blog, The Canary, was shared more widely than all but one of The Guardian's output.

So far, this leads us to a few conclusions. Firstly, that there is generally a much larger presence of Corbyn supporters than May online, and not only are they bigger in size, but they're more engaged and sharing articles more widely. What's clear is that a digital political battle is going on every minute of every day, full of people trying to correct the perceived lies of their opponents whilst simultaneously sharing the positive stories of their party. 

The second interesting point is the dominance of new DIY blogs such as The Canary and Another Angry Voice, who are more than fulfilling their aim of diminishing the influence of the mainstream media on political debates. It's clear that the traditional media outlets need to work harder to produce shareable content that can have the same success as the so-called 'bedroom bloggers'. In this day and age, every published piece of work should be written with social media in mind, or else this drift will continue to take place.


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