June 24, 2016

Brexit | Under the online lens

We are living interesting times, my friends… Moments in history where one goes to sleep safe and sound and wakes up with Britain no longer part of the European Union and David Cameron resigning from his position as Prime Minister of the UK. 17.4 million people have decided that they are better off without the Union and its policies. Seems like the old European continent has a pattern for summer revolutions: last year we were witnessing Greece and the country’s economic drama and now we’re shocked by Britain and its decisive vote: 52% for severing ties with the European Union. So let us all take a seat and enjoy this summer’s play: “Brexit – In, Out or In-between?”

All jokes aside, Britain’s move is an earthquake in history, sending waves and waves of consequences that will shake all political and economic establishments around the entire world. But before discussing this, let’s dive into some digital marketing knowledge, shall we?

First off, we had two campaigns with two different types of messages: the #Leave campaign and the #Remain one. We took a quick look on their Facebook pages, websites and did some little research on their ads and online media coverage to see how this whole Brexit thing is seen from a digital marketing perspective.

With many components and cross-channel digital tactics, both had all the ingredients of a classical political campaign: donations, Outdoor advertising, data collection, synced platforms and strong social media presence.

A Social Bakers Top for most popular pages stats in the United Kingdom in which we have featured pages for the Brexit campaigns

Vote Leave and Britain Stronger in Europe were the official Facebook pages for the campaigns. Both pages attracted quite a number of fans on Facebook in a short amount of time, managing to reach top 10 political Facebook pages in the UK. Coincidence or not, the difference between their Facebook page likes seemed to be as tight as the poll results in the past few days between the #leave and #remain probable votes.

Google search results for the term Brexit

Switching on to google.co.uk, we caught track of some of their ads on search engines, like this one from the Vote Leave Campaign. Apparently, the 350 million pounds campaign is false, with Nigel Farage and the lot declaring that such an information has nothing to do with his campaign.

Google search results featuring a Western Union ad when searching for Brexit

Fun Fact: when you typed in “Brexit”, during the Day of Vote, on Google search, a Western Union ad popped up. Well done, Western Union! They built momentum and leveraged the entire online buzz. *slow clap*

Screenshots from the Vote Leave and Vote Stay website in the campaign

Moving on to their websites, obviously both campaigns focused on informing citizens on the implications of their vote. Stronger in UK website wins the prize on this one, for their ”Get the Facts” page: very nice highlights, ability to share them on social networks, easy-to-follow information and a coherent structure gives you some Brexit 101 quality content and the chance to actually understand the organization’s perspective.

Vote Leave’s website, on the other hand, had maybe too much text and not enough structure. Lesson no. 1 in the online environment: never count on the user’s attention span and patience to read blocks of text.

Examples of contact form on Vote Leave and Vote Stay campaign websites

Next off, their volunteer forms were pretty classical, but neatly structured nonetheless. Extra points for the Leave campaign and their move on inserting more volunteering options for users.

Screenshots from Instagram accounts of British celebrities supporting either Vote Leave or Vote Stay

Needless to say, both campaigns were pretty impressive in terms of social media content. While the #Remain side used highly emotional content and very powerful messages about the future of Britain’s younger generations, the #Leave campaign showed off more aggressive, even consistent messages and visuals. With Instagram posts, Facebook apps with a high rate of data collection and logically structured information, this British referendum campaign was, indeed, a pretty exciting thing to observe.

At the end of the day, as we patiently await in the aftermath of Brexit, this campaign is yet another fresh proof that the Internet and its power of influencing politics is indisputable.