The role of social media in the General Election 2017 is unpacked in a new study from Weber Shandwick conducted by Research Now.
Building on previous research during the 2015 General Election and the 2016 EU Referendum campaign, the new study for the third time confirms television, friends and family and Facebook being the top three channels for influencing voting intention (40%, 39% and 39% respectively saying that their experience of the election being discussed in these contexts influenced party preference).
Letters and leaflets, billboards and posters put up by neighbours were rated least influential, at 22%, 23% and 13% respectively.
The study, which was conducted before the Manchester Arena bombing, also examined people’s attitudes towards Facebook, other social media and fake news.
The poll of a nationally representative sample of 1,001 UK adults found that 62% favoured regulation of Facebook, responding positively to the question ‘The Government should pass laws to make Facebook behave responsibly’.
Nearly 1 in 5 now say they get most of their news via Facebook (18%), but twice as many 18-34 year olds said they get their news this way (39%).
Young people were also more likely to say that news on Facebook tended to reflect their own views (27% versus 15% overall), and were more trusting of social media (22% versus 11% overall) and of Facebook specifically (29% versus 18% said they trusted Facebook to use their personal information responsibly).
Despite this, young people were more likely to say they had been misled by fake news (34% versus 21% for all respondents).
Surprisingly, young people were more likely to believe politicians’ promises made during the election campaign (20% v 11% overall).
Commenting on the findings, Weber Shandwick’s UK Chairman of Public Affairs Jon McLeod said: “For the third year running, TV, friends and family and Facebook have come out top for influence, confirming a clear channel hierarchy for election campaigns.
“The findings on social media and Facebook in particular are intriguing. It won’t be long before the majority of young people get their news from Facebook. At the same time, trust levels are low across the board, and the siren calls for regulation are only likely to increase as we move into the new Parliament.
“The study reflects the changing role of social media in our democracy, and should be compulsory reading for all the channel strategists out there.”
Caroline Northfield, Vice President for Media in the UK at Research Now added: “With so many 18-34 year olds turning to social media for their main source of news, social media is fast becoming the most important media platform from which to engage with younger voters. The challenge for campaigners however is to ensure that their content is able to attract interest from younger voters, whilst also maintaining a high level of integrity, given the scrutiny content on social media is likely to face.”
A second part of the study on the role of televised debates will be published shortly.
The survey was conducted amongst a nationally representative UK sample of 1,001 18+ adults. The sample for this study was provided by Research Now using their proprietary online panels. Participants completed the survey between Friday 19th May and Monday 22nd May 2017.
Research Now Group, Inc., is the global leader in digital research data for better insights and business decisions. Founded in 1999, the company was a pioneer in originating online data sampling and created the first B2B panel. The company provides world-class research data solutions that enable better decisions and better results for its 3,000 market research, consulting, media, and corporate clients through access to over 11 million deeply-profiled business professionals and consumers in more than 40 countries. Research Now operates globally with locations in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia-Pacific, and is recognised as the quality, scale, and customer satisfaction leader in the market research industry. For more information, please go to www.researchnow.com.