May 2024

Social media firestorm erupts around General Election 2024 – how to break through a noisy media

Written by Gemma McMullan

Social media firestorm erupts around General Election 2024 – how to break through a noisy media

On 22nd May UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak formally announced the next United Kingdom General Election will be held on July 4th, 2024. Cue a media frenzy.

Every major media outlet responded, providing in-depth analysis of what UK citizens should anticipate during the upcoming six-week campaign period. And of course social media amplified. 

Here’s a look at how hashtags and the media have responded to the news:

Trending hashtags

#UKElection and #GeneralElection2024 have emerged as the primary hashtags to discuss the election, adopted by news outlets, political commentators and the general public.

The below graph shows a 525% increase in the use of the hashtag ‘UK Election’ on the 22nd May, the day the news broke. 

UK election

#RishiSunakAndKeirStarmer has also gained significant traction, reflecting the intense focus on the two main party leaders and their contrasting visions for the country. This hashtag is used to compare policies, leadership styles, and campaign performances, fuelling debates among supporters and critics alike.

Focusing on each leader, the graph below shows how the use of “Rishi Sunak” significantly outpaces that of “Keir Starmer”, likely due to spikes happening at the same time Sunak delivered his speech outside 10 Downing Street in the pouring rain without an umbrella, while the Labour 97 election theme song ‘Things can only get better’ was blasted in the background. The scene garnered understandable public attention and discourse on social media. 

Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer graph

Media coverage and engagement

Traditional media outlets have already extensively used these hashtags to promote their election coverage and engage with their audiences on social media. Major news organisations like the BBC, The Guardian, and The Times have actively shared their opinions pieces and live updates, ensuring maximum visibility and reach, with over 13,000 articles published. Additionally, political pundits, journalists, and social media influencers have begun to leverage these hashtags to share their insights, commentary, and reactions to the election news. 

Amplifying narratives and voices

Hashtags play a crucial role in amplifying specific narratives and voices during an election campaign. We expect to see supporters of different parties and ideologies rally around relevant hashtags, using them to promote their preferred candidates, policies, and ideological stances. For example, #VoteLabour and #VoteConservative are often the go-to hashtags for party loyalists to mobilise support and counter opposing viewpoints. 

As the election discourse intensifies, both sides will vigorously make their respective cases to the British electorate. Hashtags will begin to focus on party policies, polling numbers, and taking shots at each other’s perceived weaknesses. Meanwhile #FactCheck and #FakeNews will be used to flag and debunk false claims, rumours, and misleading narratives circulating on social media. This is particularly important in the current era where the spread of misinformation can potentially influence voter perceptions and decision-making. 

In summary, expect hashtags to play a pivotal role in shaping the discourse surrounding the UK general election, facilitating real-time updates, amplifying narratives, and enabling fact-checking efforts.

And finally, a word of advice – in any social media strategy it is important not to ‘piggyback’ trending hashtags unless they are relevant. It is possible to cut-through with hyper-relevant news and content. If it is related to the current UK political situation, then great. If not, make sure that you are targeting the right readers and users.

Our newsletter

Sign up to our monthly industry insights