CONTENIVE research reveals what UK politicians are doing on social media
by Alex Bogins 15 minutes read updated on November 7, 2022
Social media platforms are now ingrained in the lives of billions of people all over the world and British politicians are no exception. The question is, are these political figures more likely to publish their morning coffee snap on Instagram, a video of their cat on Facebook or a sharp comment on Twitter?
We studied how British politicians behave on their Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles, analysing the most and the least popular post topics, the sentiment of their posts, the words they use, how they reacted to the Queen's death, what unites politicians of each party and much more.
Parts of the study were carried out by our analysts, and others were completed by AI. We found a perfect blend of artificial and natural intelligence to present a highly detailed report on British politicians’ behaviour on social media.
To begin with, let’s see what we found about British politicians on social media in general. Then we’ll move on to the candidates to replace Liz Truss as the Prime Minister.
What’s common on British politicians’ profiles
96% of the politicians studied have profiles on one or more social networks , whereas 4% are not present on social media at all.
92% of the politicians publish different posts across their social networks profiles, with the remaining 8% publishing the same posts everywhere.
97% of the politicians have Twitter profiles, 86% have Facebook profiles, 76% have Instagram profiles, and 17% have LinkedIn profiles.
77% of the politicians publish posts weekly, 15% monthly, but 8% don't publish anything on their social network profiles.
98% of the politicians present on at least 2 social networks have more followers on Twitter than elsewhere, with just 2% having more followers on Instagram.
74% of the politicians mention only their job titles in their profile descriptions, 20.4% include job titles and other information related to them, with 5.6% leaving the descriptions empty.
54.7%
of posts across the politicians' social network profiles are positive, 27.7% are neutral, and 17.6% are negative.
2.5%
of followers of a politician's profile interact (like/comment/share) with a single post on average.
77% of the politicians describe the events they attended using positive adjectives like 'admirable', 'amazing', 'astonishing', 'awesome', 'brilliant', 'enjoyable', 'fantastic', 'great', 'incredible', 'outstanding', 'wonderful' etc. 23% describe what they do without any emotions. Nobody posts negative descriptions.
57% of Labour politicians criticise the political activity of Conservatives and propose alternative solutions, 25% only criticise Conservatives, and 18% stay neutral.
94% of the politicians dedicated posts to Queen Elizabeth II's death. Even politicians who were inactive on social media, in general, posted about it on September 8th. 6% didn't relate any posts to the death of the Queen.
85% of the politicians support the women's football growth in England on their profiles in general, as well as supporting the England women's national football team "The Lionesses", in particular. 15% stay neutral.
94% of the politicians who talk about their own or their family members' diseases on their profiles tend to raise funds to promote the fight against them, but 6% just mention the diseases they've overcome.
58% of posts about environmental sustainability across the politicians' social network profiles are positive, 35% are negative, and 7% are neutral.
The 3 most interesting post topics for the politicians' followers:
35% of followers interact with posts about impactful national or worldwide events;
20% of followers interact with posts about their personal life and posts with selfies;
18% of followers interact with posts criticising competitors.
The 3 parties publishing most about environmental sustainability:
43% of posts are published by Labour Party members;
30% of posts are published by Conservative Party members;
17.5% of posts are published by Green Party members.
The 3 types of posts that the politicians publish the most:
89% publish their own opinions;
82.5% publish posts about their professional activity;
54.5% publish personal comments on news and events.
The 3 types of posts that the politicians publish the least:
17% publish news with themselves as the primary source;
16.9% publish personal comments on other people's posts;
7.8% promote themselves.
During a week, followers interact with posts most on a Thursday, but least on a Monday.
During a day, followers interact with posts most actively between 12.00 GMT and 15.00 GMT, as well as between 17.00 GMT and 20.00 GMT.
Sunak, Mordaunt and Johnson on social media
After the epoch-making Liz Truss's resignation after 45 days in the post of UK Prime Minister, three candidates from the Conservative party were to run the race to replace Liz, namely, Rishi Sunak, Penny Mordaunt, and Boris Johnson. We researched their profiles on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. We found there was more common among them than could have been expected. Read below.
Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak
The types of posts Sunak publishes on his social media (excluding posts shared from other people's profiles):
  • 19.4% professional activity related to common people
  • 15.5% personal articles and comments in the media
  • 13.1% announcements and news
  • 11% results of work
  • 9.7% professional activity related to commercial and non-commercial organisations
  • 8.8% professional activity related to other political figures
  • 6.7% hosted events by him
  • 5.2% personal opinion on issues including taxes and sustainability
  • 4.5% greetings and congratulations on holidays
  • 3% calls to action (e.g., to sign or join something)
  • 2.2% comparison of Conservatives vs. Labour
  • 0.9% other items
The top 3 hashtags throughout Sunak's social media presence:
  • #PlanForJobs
  • #Budget2021
  • #Budget2020
Excluding the “#Ready4Rishi” hashtag that bit others but was present only during the PM election time
100%
of posts on Instagram and LinkedIn are created by Sunak himself.
0.5%
of followers on Sunak’s profile interact (like/comment/share) with a single post on average.
  • 78.5% of posts across Sunak’s social networks are positive, 12.1% are negative, and 9.4% are neutral.
  • 95.5% of Facebook posts are created by Sunak himself. 4.5% are shared from other people’s profiles.
  • 44% of Twitter posts are created by Sunak himself, 37.3% are shared from other people’s profiles, and 18.7% are someone else’s quotes.
The number of followers on each of Sunak’s social networks by the report publication date
  • 1.4M followers are on Twitter
  • 1.1M followers are on LinkedIn
  • 566k followers are on Instagram
  • 360k followers are on Facebook
The volume of posts published across Sunak’s socials including posts shared from other people’s profiles on Twitter and Facebook
  • 55.1% are on Twitter
  • 23.2% are on Facebook
  • 14.4% are on LinkedIn
  • 7.3% are on Instagram
The number of followed profiles - connections on LinkedIn - on each of Sunak’s social networks by the report publication date
  • 261 profiles are followed on Twitter
  • 182 profiles are followed on Instagram
  • 0 profiles are followed on LinkedIn
  • 0 profiles are followed on Facebook
Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson
The types of posts Johnson publishes on his social media (excluding posts shared from other people's profiles):
  • 30.1% professional activity related to other political figures
  • 17.6% professional activity related to common people
  • 11.7% personal opinion on issues including current affairs, inflation, and football
  • 9.1% announcements and news
  • 8.2% results of work
  • 7.8% professional activity related to commercial and non-commercial organisations
  • 5.6% greetings and congratulations on holidays
  • 4.3% his constituency events
  • 3.9% calls to action (e.g., to sign or join something)
  • 1.7% other items
The top 3 hashtags throughout Johnson’s social media presence:
  • #StayAlert
  • #VoteConservative
  • #GetBrexitDone
100%
of Instagram posts are created by Johnson himself.
1.1%
of the followers on Johnson’s profile interact (like/comment/share) with a single post on average.
  • 68.9% of posts across Johnson’s social networks are positive, 16.8% are neutral and 14.3% are negative.
  • 92% of LinkedIn posts are created by Johnson himself, and 8% are shared from other people’s profiles.
  • 81.5% of Facebook posts are created by Johnson himself, and 18.5% are shared from other people’s profiles.
  • 60.9% of Twitter posts are created by Johnson himself, 23.8% are someone else’s quotes, and 15.3% are shared from other people’s profiles.
The number of followers on each of Johnson’s social networks by the report publication date
  • 4.6M followers are on Twitter
  • 2.4M followers are on Facebook
  • 1.9M followers are on Instagram
  • 1.3M followers are on LinkedIn
The volume of posts published across Johnson’s socials including posts shared from other people’s profiles on Twitter and Facebook
  • 47.4% are on Twitter
  • 30.7% are on Facebook
  • 12.5% are on Instagram
  • 9.4% are on LinkedIn
The number of followed profiles - connections on LinkedIn - on each of Johnson’s social networks by the report publication date
  • 463 profiles are followed on Twitter
  • 259 profiles are followed on Instagram
  • 17 profiles are followed on Facebook
  • 0 profiles are followed on LinkedIn
Penny Mordaunt
Penny Mordaunt
The types of posts Mordaunt publishes on her social media (excluding posts shared from other people's profiles):
  • 24.3% professional activity related to common people
  • 18.2% professional activity related to other political figures
  • 16.3% local events and news of her constituency
  • 13.5% personal articles and comments in the media
  • 9% personal opinion on issues including taxes, cost of living, and sustainability
  • 7% results of work
  • 5.5% professional activity related to commercial and non-commercial organisations
  • 5.4% calls to action (e.g., to sign or join something)
  • 0.8% other items
The top 3 hashtags throughout Mordaunt's social media presence:
  • #UKaid
  • #DITStateSide
  • #Portsmouth
Excluding the “#PM4PM” hashtag that bit others but was present only during the PM election time
100%
of posts on Instagram and LinkedIn are created by Mordaunt herself.
0.4%
of followers on Mordaunt's profile interact (like/comment/share) with a single post on average.
  • 70.7% of posts across Mordaunt’s social networks are positive, 23.8% are neutral, and 5.5% are negative.
  • 99% of posts published by Mordaunt are scattered across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and 1% is published on LinkedIn.
  • 70% of Facebook posts are created by Mordaunt herself, and 30% are shared from other people’s profiles.
  • 44% of Twitter posts are created by Mordaunt herself, 40% are shared from other people’s profiles, and 16% are someone else’s quotes.
The number of followers on each of Mordaunt’s social networks by the report publication date
  • 193.7k followers are on Twitter
  • 30.7k followers are on Facebook
  • 24.5k followers are on Instagram
  • 1.6k followers are on LinkedIn
The volume of posts published on Mordaunt’s Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram profiles including posts shared from other people’s profiles on Twitter and Facebook
  • 73.8% are on Twitter
  • 18.5% are on Facebook
  • 7.7% are on Instagram
The number of followed profiles - connections on LinkedIn - on each of Mordaunt’s social networks by the report publication date
  • 14.1k profiles are followed on Twitter
  • 1.4k profiles are followed on Instagram
  • 260 profiles are followed on LinkedIn
  • 222 profiles are followed on Facebook
Rishi Sunak won the political race after Boris Johnson and Penny Mordaunt withdrew their candidacies. As the new Prime Minister, will Rishi Sunak manage to beat Johnson's number of followers on social media?
Presented below is more categorised data relating to the politicians' profiles on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Instagram as the politicians' playground
  • 95% of the politicians with over 100k followers have professional accounts on Instagram. 5% have personal ones.
  • 75% of the politicians with less than 100k followers have professional accounts on Instagram. 25% have personal ones.
  • 99% of the politicians have public accounts on Instagram. 1% have private ones.
  • On average, 3.17% of followers on a politician's profile interact (like/comment/share) with every single post on Instagram.
The 3 most interesting post topics for the politicians' followers on Instagram:
  • 30% of followers interact with posts criticising competitors;
  • 24% of followers interact with posts about personal life;
  • 11% of followers interact with posts about impactful national or worldwide events.
  • The 3 types of posts that the politicians publish the most on Instagram:
  • 93% publish posts about their professional activity;
  • 86% publish their own opinions;
  • 50% publish calls to action (e.g. to sign or join something).
  • The 3 types of posts that the politicians publish the least on Instagram:
  • 22% publish personal comments on news and events;
  • 14.8% publish personal comments on other people's posts;
  • 11% publish posts mentioning themselves in the media.
67% of the politicians' posts on Instagram are 160-1,000 characters long, 30% are less than 160 characters, and 3% are longer than 1,000 characters.
93%
of the politicians fill in profile descriptions on Instagram. 7% leave them empty.
8.9
posts is the average number per month that the politicians publish on their profiles on Instagram.
During a week, followers interact with the politicians' posts on Instagram most actively on Thursday and Friday, but least actively on Wednesday and Saturday.
During a day, followers interact with the politicians' posts on Instagram most actively between 10.00 GMT and 13.00 GMT, as well as between 16.00 GMT and 21.00 GMT.
Twitter as the politicians' playground
  • 51.9% of the politicians' posts on Twitter are shared from other people's profiles, 36.4% are self-created posts and 11.7% are quotes.
  • On average, 0.99% of followers on a politician's profile interact (like/comment/share) with every single post on Twitter.
The 3 most interesting post topics for the politicians' followers on Twitter:
  • 59% of followers interact with posts about national successes (e.g. football team wins);
  • 41% of followers interact with calls to action on national problems;
  • 11% of followers interact with humorous/parody posts.
  • The 3 types of posts that the politicians publish the most on Twitter:
  • 96% publish their own opinions;
  • 82% publish their professional activity;
  • 79% publish personal comments on news and events as well as on other people's posts;
  • The 3 types of posts that the politicians publish the least on Twitter:
  • 29% publish posts about others;
  • 19% publish news with themselves as the primary source;
  • 17% publish posts about their personal life.
68% of the politicians' posts on Twitter are 140-280 characters long. 32% are less than 140 characters.
96.5%
of the politicians fill in profile descriptions on Twitter. 3.5% leave them empty.
93.1
posts is the average number per month that the politicians publish on their profiles on Twitter.
During a week, followers interact with the posts on Twitter most actively on Sunday, Thursday and Friday, but least actively on Monday and Saturday.
During a day, followers interact with the posts on Twitter most actively between 12.00 GMT and 14.00 GMT, between 16.00 GMT and 20.00 GMT and between 22.00 GMT and 23.00 GMT.
Facebook as the politicians' playground
  • A post about the death of the Queen from The Royal Family's account was the most shareable among the politicians within the last 12 months on Facebook.
  • On average, 1.52% of followers on a politician's profile interact (like/comment/share) with every single post on Facebook.
The 3 most interesting post topics for the politicians' followers on Facebook:
  • 16% of followers interact with posts that include selfies;
  • 13% of followers interact with self-promoting posts;
  • 7% of followers interact with posts criticising competitors.
  • The 3 types of posts that the politicians publish the most on Facebook:
  • 89% publish about their professional activity;
  • 85% publish their own opinions;
  • 59% publish personal comments on news and events.
  • The 3 types of posts that the politicians publish the least on Facebook:
  • 22% publish personal comments on other people's posts;
  • 18% publish news with themselves as the primary source;
  • 13% publish self-promoting posts.
82.5% of the politicians' posts on Facebook are 160-1000 characters long, 16.5% are less than 160 characters, and 1% are longer than 1,000 symbols.
93%
of the politicians fill in profile descriptions on Facebook. 7% leave them empty.
21
posts is the average number per month that the politicians publish on their profiles on Facebook.
During a week, followers interact with the posts on Facebook most actively on Wednesday and Thursday, but least actively on Sunday and Monday.
During a day, followers interact with the posts on Facebook most actively between 15.00 GMT and 17.00 GMT, as well as between 18.00 GMT and 21.00 GMT.
LinkedIn as the politicians' playground
  • 70% of the politicians use standard accounts. 30% use premium ones.
  • On average, 4.2% of followers on a politician's profile interact (like/comment/share) with every single post on LinkedIn.
The 3 most interesting post topics for the politicians' followers on LinkedIn:
  • 41% of followers interact with posts about impactful national or worldwide events shared from other people's profiles;
  • 14% of followers interact with posts about the author's visit to a place if the place is mentioned;
  • 5% of followers interact with posts about professional activity.
  • The 3 types of posts that the politicians publish the most on LinkedIn:
  • 92% publish posts shared from other people's profiles;
  • 67% publish posts about professional activity;
  • 31% publish personal comments on news and events.
  • The 3 types of posts that the politicians publish the least on LinkedIn:
  • 14% publish calls to action;
  • 8% publish posts about mentioning themselves in the media;
  • 1% publish announcement posts.
77% of the politicians' posts on LinkedIn are 160-1000 characters long, 20% are less than 160 characters, and 3% are longer than 1,000 symbols.
95%
of the politicians fill in profile descriptions on LinkedIn. 5% leave them empty.
5
posts is the average number per month that the politicians publish on their profiles on LinkedIn.
Time to sum up
Before conducting our research, we decided to test 2 hypotheses:
  1. The more posts politicians publish on Facebook, the more followers they get.
  2. The younger the politician is, the more followers they have on Instagram.
Eventually, both hypotheses turned out to be wrong.
  1. There is no connection between the number of followers on Facebook and posts published over a certain period. One politician may have less than 4,000 followers and publish 28 posts per month, while at the same time, another politician may have more than 1.5 million followers and publish 17 posts per month.
  2. There is also no connection between the number of followers on Instagram and a politician's age. One politician may be around 30 years old and have ~250k followers, while another politician may be around 70 years old and have twice as many people following them.
All in all, we found that there were both similarities and differences in the ways British politicians behave on their social media profiles. However, there were a few features that made the profiles stand out from the observed patterns.
Below is a list of what distinguishes some of the politicians' accounts from the rest:
  • Posts with "Good morning" wishes with a photo of the constituency where the politician governs;
  • Posts thanking people who participated in an event the politician had held;
  • A politician's profile description: "Labour MP for Islington South & Finsbury; Shad Att Gen. An account of campaigns, cats, cakes, culture & cocktails.";
  • Posts about diplomatic agreements with other countries in the native language of those countries.
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