Britain’s big conversation – a Weber Shandwick EUREF Report

Monday 18 July, 2016

What issues drove conversation online during the EU Referendum?

To answer this crucial question Weber Shandwick undertook a manual content analysis of the issues that mattered most (and least) to voters and the online press during the referendum, comparing the findings with online press during the same period. The approach used is uniquely rigorous, iterative and robust. It goes much deeper than counting hashtags or keywords and reveals fascinating dynamics in the development of this ‘big conversation’.

We found a significant discrepancy between the issues and tone that drove press coverage of the referendum and the issues voters were concerned with online. A large majority of online voters focused on the issues of the campaign (including sovereignty, trade, jobs, security, and immigration) rather than gossip, polls and in-fighting. 72.6% of Twitter posts and 76.8% of Facebook posts during the campaign were focused on issues. But the press was obsessed with gossip. Only 47.9% of online articles were focused on issues during the referendum campaign.

Emotional issues sparked the greatest conversation online. In particular sovereignty fascinated voters; 29% of all Facebook and Twitter posts during the referendum focused on sovereignty. 14% more than immigration and 18% more than jobs. In contrast, the press was more interested in issues of immigration and investment. Only 10.2% of press article primarily focused on the issue of sovereignty during the campaign.

The full report can be found here.