Social media is more important than ever for Irish politicians and the importance of an online presence has only increased during the Covid-19 pandemic.
While a politician is now quite limited in terms of direct contact with constituents, but there’s no limit on Zoom clinics or video updates on Twitter and Facebook.
People can be reached like never before through social media, but getting the tone and message right is crucial, and political own goals are just as common on social media as successes. Younger voters
Kirsty Park, the co-author of a DCU study into social media and the 2020 general election, and Green Party MEP Ciarán Cuffe spoke to BreakingNews.ie about Irish politicians and their use of social media.
The huge success of Sinn Féin in the general election came as a shock to some, but Ms Park points to the engagement they had in their social media campaign as a sign of what was to come.
Their success was primarily with younger voters and this was reflected in the reactions to their online presence ahead of the election.
“There’s definitely an aspect of demographics when it comes to these things, and we know that younger people are more likely to use social media, so I think that definitely feeds into part of why they did so well.
“Some of their strategies also made sense in that they used a lot of populist indicators…. more so than the other parties so their messaging itself and the way that they were presenting themselves was connecting more with people.” Engagement
“There’s always been this idea that perhaps Sinn Féin voters are more active on social media, that may just be the case and it’s not necessarily that Sinn Féin are doing a fantastic job engaging with them, although that may be part of it.
“It makes sense for any party these days to be taking social media seriously and seeing what they can do to engage. It’s bigger than just putting lots of posts up or putting up lots of videos, a lot of it comes down to messaging.
“In the last election, Sinn Féin did a very good job of painting a narrative that they were the only real alternative to the status quo. They even penned Fianna Fáil into seeming like they were part of the government, so ‘if you want to see change, you need to vote for us’.
“It’s not just down to the tactics, it’s also the messaging and the narrative that’s accompanying those tactics.”
One insight Ms Park found was that posts by Sinn Féin in the buildup to the general election tended to have more positive reactions on Facebook. ‘Haha’, or ‘Angry’ constituted 94 per cent of emoji reactions for Fine Gael and 90 per cent for Fianna Fáil. In contrast, only 7 per cent of Sinn Féin’s emoji reactions were ‘Haha’ or ‘Angry’, with 91 per cent being ‘Love’.’ Narrative Again, she attributes this to the type of narrative the party pushed in presenting itself to the main alternative to Fine Gael […]