Brexit Stage Left

The entire world is still reeling from the fallout of the Brexit. The European Union is down a super power, exchange rates for the Pound are in flux, and we aren’t lacking in commentators eager to grab a headline. In the fallout of the Brexit, it is clear that the youth of Great Britain voted strongly in favor of Remain and took to social media in force to lament the outcome. But while Britain’s younger generation may have been passionate and energized following the final tally, the facts show if you were monitoring the lead up to the election on social media, then the ‘Leave’ result wasn’t that surprising.

 

The total interactions on Pro-Leave pages was 11 million. Easily lapping the Pro-Remain total of 3.3 million.

 

A data study by CrowdTangle, a social media monitoring firm in New York , identified the top 20 pages related to the European Union. Seven of those top 20 were firmly Pro-Leave and these pages totaled 1.3 million interactions. Only two pages, one for Prime Minister David Cameron and Pro-Remain group Britain Stronger, were Pro-Remain. And their interactions totaled 150,000. If you take an even larger step back and look at the last six months, the total interactions on the Pro-Leave pages was 11 million. Easily lapping the Pro-Remain total of 3.3 million.  It’s clear that Brexit supporters and skeptics of the E.U were much more outspoken in their online behavior, active on social media, and effective in mobilizing people across Britain.

 

The final Brexit results showed that Brits 44 and under voted 62.3% in favor of Remain and Brits 45 and older voted 57% to Leave. Of those two groups, the 44 and under crowd boasts 17.5 million Facebook users to the 9.8 million users who are 45 and older. Simply put, the youth weren’t nearly as engaged or proactive in this vote as their opponents. In spite of having more social media users, being more active on social media, and being more tech savvy, the younger Pro-Remain crowd was less engaged than a smaller social media demographic. The youth of Britain may have taken to social media in droves to express their displeasure with the result, but they were not nearly as invested or engaged on the day of the vote or the months leading up to it.

 

The idea that older users were more effective on social media may sound odd, but the facts are laid bare Why weren’t the youth of Britain as engaged in this vote as much as their outrage and reaction would lead you to believe? Some think it’s the result of a poor social media campaign that tried to hard to relate by dropping the ‘g’ from words like, ‘workin’ and ‘votin’. The result of the election can’t be pinned on poor commercials, as the Leave camp was not without their follies as well.

 

While older people may be labeled as late adopters to technology, it was the youth of Britain that were late to the party this time.

 

We are only beginning to understand the power and influence social media has on our personal lives, spending habits and political fates. The simple fact is that Leave supporters out hustled Remain supporters. They were more passionate and personally invested in seeing their cause succeed. So much of the story has been about the generational split in voting results, and that carries over in to social media as well. While older people may be labeled as late adopters, it was the youth of Britain that were late to the party this time, arriving only in time to cry foul on the very platforms they frequent.

- Michael Dennis, Digital Strategist & Content Creator