What is the shape of British political movements on Facebook, where online activity translates to physical action?
Around three years worth of data on a selection of the pages belonging to key campaign groups and parties shows clear winners and losers, and underlines the changing shape of the British political landscape.
Using a data samples from June-July 2016, 2017, & 2018, and from the last 28 days, the only group which has clearly performed consistently above average is Leave EU.
Using data samples from November and December 2018 and January & February 2019, the same is true: only Leave EU has performed consistently above average.
Over the 2016-2019 period, groups almost all saw surges over the year following the Brexit vote. UKIP have started to see a decline in their audience, the Liberal Democrats are stagnating, and Best For Britain has made recent gains through paid advertising investment.
People’s Vote saw growth through aggregation of other activist followings but is now largely static, while Labour saw a surge in the wake of the Brexit vote and has ‘topped out’.
The only consistent audience growth can be seen in Leave EU and Momentum.
Leave EU is the only comparable rival to the Labour Party and the Conservatives still find themselves in almost direct competition with UKIP, in spite of shrinkage – which appears to be direct transference to the For Britain Movement. People’s Vote has as yet failed to fully identify its political placement.
Over the four month view, we can see that the the political aligments have stabilised significantly and the audience bases are almost entirely set.
However, Best For Britain is still growing, as is Leave EU, though the scale is vastly different.
Interactions tell a very different story to audience figures.
Over the 2016-2019 nobody comes close to the level of interactions of Leave EU, and though they saw a dip after the referendum in 2016, they have maintained performance well above Britain’s established political parties. No other digital campaign strategy is even competing.
Momentum, the Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, and Conservatives have all seen a decline in interactions over the time period whereas Best for Britain has made recent advances alongside People’s Vote. However, a resurgent UKIP is outperforming both groups and the For Britain Movement is also seeing growth.
Over the recent four month period, Leave EU is still the clear digital campaign leader, though February to date indicates a dip.
Momentum, Labour, and People’s Vote also show decline while Best For Britain shows the best signs of stable growth.
Interestingly, UKIP and the Conservatives show very close correlation in their interactions online, though UKIP takes the larger share.
Engagement is the calculation of the amount of the audience interacting.
Momentum has seen the most significant fall in engagement over the 2016-2019 period while Best For Britain and the For Britain Movement have seen the largest gains.
Most others remain fairly static after the Brexit vote surges, though UKIP is also seeing gains recently.
If you were to translate engagement directly to presence in a stadium (which is purely for illustrative purposes to give you an idea of scale), Leave EU would create a group of 44,716 people, Best For Britain would create a group of 7,979 people and Momentum would create a group of 5,925 people.
Over the four month view, Best For Britain’s return on paid advertising is clearer, as is the declining fortune of Momentum and the Labour Party.
The gains of the For Britain Movement are much more pronounced over this time period.
The main political parties are stagnating or shrinking, while marginal groups like UKIP and the For Britain Movement show signs of growth.
Best For Britain and People’s Vote are constrained by their absence of political purpose despite gains.
If Leave EU were to make the step from campaign movement to political party, they would be highly successful in a very short space of time.