UK voters turn to social media to express political opinions

Britain appears to have experienced a cultural shift in the age of social media as a recent NetNames consumer poll revealed that around 28 per cent of the British population share their allegiances or opinions on politics through social media.

“Politics, along with money and religion, is a notoriously taboo conversation topic amongst Brits. However, our survey suggests that social media is triggering a cultural shift. With almost four in ten 18-to-20 year olds now showing their political views on social media, parties, leaders and organisations still have time to use this year’s election to increase their digital impact and engage potential floating voters,” NetNames CEO Gary McIlraith said.

28 per cent of Labour voters are found to have the most confidence in their party’s effective utilisation of social media, compared to 26 per cent of UKIP voters, 23 per cent of Conservative supporters and just 7 per cent of Liberal Democrats.

However, while people have become more willing to share their political opinions, only 4 per cent of UK voters formally list the political party that they support on social networks. In addition, British men are found to be four times more likely to formally announce their political leanings online than women, at 8 per cent and 2 per cent, respectively.

Despite the increase in social media utilisation, 46 per cent of respondents said that television remains the most popular source for consuming news. But the survey also revealed that there is scope for parties to engage using social platforms, because 22 per cent of British voters already expressed comfort with political parties using data that they post on social media to track opinion. For respondents between 18 to 24, this percentage rises to almost 31 per cent.

“While digital platforms are powerful tools for political organisations, it also presents them with reputational threats. The internet is an open forum, where users are able to express their views democratically.

"However, it is easy to set up fake profiles that mimic party branding and can damage reputation. Political parties – and any public-facing organisations for that matter – therefore need to be able to monitor social channels for any infringements if they are to thrive in the social age,” McIlraith explains.

NetNames has retrieved figures YouGov Plc, which acquired responses online from 1,643 adults between 24 February to 6 March.