On 28 April, EACA participated in the webinar “A new era of advocacy? Grayling reveals how MPs across Europe are using social media” organised by Grayling. Underpinning the webinar was research conducted by Grayling on how politicians across the continent use social media. The study analysed almost 3 million pieces of content posted by Members of Parliament from 17 European countries and the European Parliament on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
The study showed that although more than 80% of parliamentarians across Europe have a Facebook account, less than a third of their activity shows up there. Instead, two-thirds of the posts are sent via Twitter.
In addition, the study shows that the youngest MPs (those under 35 years old, representing about 10% of the total) produce a high engagement rate on all three platforms. This suggests that it is quality rather than quantity that counts for younger MPs: they understand how to use social media and prioritise generating comments, likes, shares and retweets rather than a high volume of posts. After the mid-50s, social media activity declines rapidly and focuses mainly on Facebook.
Interestingly, the study reveals that Members of Parliament across Europe engage their audience via social networks much more effectively than brands and influencers. Firstly, while users follow brand and influencer accounts in a ‘passive’ way, following a politician usually translates into ‘active’ political engagement. The action of following a politician translates into ‘active’ political engagement followers express their opinions on posts. Secondly, politicians have quickly realised that social media platforms provide a unique opportunity to transform how they communicate with citizens. Through social networks, politicians stimulate an honest debate that allows them to ‘probe’ the positions of their constituents in real-time before the election stages.