Socials Blow Up around EU Vote with 15 Days to go

Data from Brandwatch: last updated 7th June 2016

Tomorrow marks ‘two-weeks to go’ in the run up to the one of the most important decisions of recent times – whether the UK should remain in or leave the EU, both opinions and tensions are running high on the #voteleave and #strongerin sides of the debate.

A constant flow of information combined with the gravitas of the looming decision, which will unarguably have major impacts either way on the UK, has sparked widespread conversation and resulted in huge volumes of data on Twitter.

Specifically, 5.4 million mentions of the EU Referendum (including associated Remain and Leave campaign hashtags) were recorded in the last two months with a staggering 3.8 million of these in the last month alone.

With only 14 days left until the UK population take their decision, both ‘camps’ are releasing figures, facts and fear mongering warnings on a daily basis, as to the effects Brexit could have on the United Kingdom.

To help illustrate a picture of the current balance between the #voteleave and #strongerin campaigns, we are working with social media monitoring company Brandwatch to provide insight into who and what people are talking about.

Brandwatch identified that the most used hashtags within those 5.4 million mentions were:




Looking in greater detail at the two hashtags most central to the debate it is clear that the #voteleave was used nearly double the amount within online conversation compared to the #strongerin.

However, this data is not holistically representative of the situation. As we identified in similar research around 2014’s Scottish Independence Referendum, the ‘Yes’ campaigners for Scottish Independence were far more vocal throughout the debate than the ultimately victorious ‘No’ voters. This behaviour is best illustrated via the mass communication theory known as The Spiral of Silence.

As with all social and digital sources, it is paramount to examine the data in context of the debate, the arguments of both sides and their motivations for posting online.

Campaign hashtags by volume:


The chart above shows a comparison of ‘leave vs remain’ conversational volume.  What’s interesting is the expansion of those volumes over time, shown below and highlighting that whilst #leave have achieved almost double the level of mentions than #remain, #remain has rapidly gained volume in the past few days.


Within the data it is also of interest to examine the Gender Breakdown of the leave and stay supporters with a clear 6% split Male skew for #leave and 6% Female skew for #stay…



What is evident across all data sets is that, as the vote draws closer, people are becoming more involved in the conversation and are increasingly driven to add their voice and opinion to the subject.  Volumes will, inevitably continue to increase over the weeks ahead leading into the main event:

Mention volume by date:


Within these huge data volumes lie a myriad of topics and themes relating to the potential impacts of Brexit’s outcome.  The chart below highlights those that have, to date, experienced the highest levels of conversational volume, including; Immigration, Trade, National Security, Tourism, the United States and the Economy.


Peaks and troughs in volume of mentions surrounding each of these topics can be tracked directly to the release of statistics and arguments pushed by each of the two campaigns.  As the vote draws nearer, it will be of great interest to pollsters to know which of these topics continue to grow and what, if any, new or emerging topics present.

Finally, we’ve taken a look at the Top 3 highest profile tweets to date. In at No. 3 is a Dr Evil themed piece by Stephen Mangan (whom we can only assume is a #strongerin supporter):


No 2 features a (pretty terrifying) reflection upon one Liam Huttons’ understanding of the EU Ref in comparison to his knowledge of a celebrity coupling.  An 80-character piece of content that has received, to date, a storming 10k retweets!



Taking the crown, at No.1 with a staggering 14,843 retweets is Ben Phillips’ tweet sharing a GIF of a #Brexit supporter attempting, and abysmally failing, to burn the EU flag as a direct  and hugely ironic result of EU Fire Resistance Regulations.

With the deadline to register to vote having passed we are on the home straight towards a final decision.  However, as we tap these words today (Wed 8th June) – amidst the debris of the Government’s voter registration website crash – we should probably strap in for a bumpy ride as we hurtle towards Thursday 23rd June.


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