Will social media impact the Tory leadership contest?

If popularity on social media provides any indication of who will win the Tory Party leadership battle then Boris Johnson, as the bookies predict, will be a shoe-in!

Since joining Twitter in 2015, Boris has attracted 594,000 followers, more than the rest of the remaining candidates added together.

His nearest challengers in terms of followers are Jeremy Hunt and Rory Stewart with 168,000 and 167,000 followers respectively. And both of these candidates have been active on Twitter five years longer than Boris, between them posting almost 16,000 tweets compared to Johnson’s less than 1,900.

Boris was a much earlier adopter of Facebook, joining in January 2008, and it’s an even more polarised story there where his page has generated 560,000 likes. Not one of his rivals can boast as many as 20,000, his nearest challenger being Jeremy Hunt, who has built up 16,900 likes since he created his page in October 2013.

Of course, social media popularity is measured in more ways than just numbers of followers and likes. An important factor to consider is engagement – the extent to which posts are clicked, liked and shared.  Also, all the candidates have upped the intensity of their social media campaigns in recent weeks in the hope of winning more votes.

So, we will just have to wait and see.

To keep things in perspective, Jeremy Corbyn has 2.45 million followers on Twitter while Nigel Farage 1.45 million followers. Under normal circumstances these figures would have no relevance to the Tory Party leadership contest – unless you take seriously today’s YouGov poll of Tory party members in which 46% said they would be happy if Nigel Farage became leader of their party!

Written by Steve Clark, 18/06/2019