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Broaching the Brexit Debate

21.04.16

JAM is an expanding business within the Northern Powerhouse, and so it is imperative that every Jammer keeps a finger on the pulse when it comes to decisions that will affect the UK economy; not many decisions are bigger than the pending European referendum. As we specialise in a number of market sectors for our clients, it’s also important to consider how the vote will make a difference within our clients’ industries. We are using a variety of platforms to keep in tune with the ‘pro-remain’ and ‘Britain out’ campaigns.

Analysing social media channels has become an extremely accurate and efficient way of measuring public sentiment and we predict that these platforms will soon replace polls as the most reliable way of predicting political outcomes. Twitter even introduced Twitter polls last year, an incredibly simple way of gaging public opinion and a tool we regularly use on behalf of our clients.

According to trading.co.uk, overall, social media conversation around Brexit peaked on 21st February 2016 when around 70,000 people in the UK were discussing the subject online. Since then, the total volume of chatter has dropped by around 40 per cent. Just over half of the chatter around Britain leaving the EU was negative – so, it looks as though we’re pretty torn as a nation.

However, tracking hashtags on Twitter indicates little support for the ‘remain’ camp.  The UK in a Changing Europe Initiative has collected an impressive 6 million tweets on the referendum debate over the last five months. According to its findings, the hashtag #leaveeu is being used to express a pro-leave sentiment as might be expected, and this is the most commonly used hashtag within the Brexit debate. In contrast, the pro-remain camp tend not to use many hashtags and when they do, it is #strongerin, which is not as widely used according to data. The pro-remain camp is losing the hashtag battle in the #EUref twittersphere.

Identifying sentiment expressed in a tweet or a piece of text in general is a hard task, but there is software available that measures the strength and direction of sentiment in a segment of text. These listening tools are an integral part of PR operations as we compile comprehensive reports for our clients, and they also allow us valuable insights into public attitude.

Of course, we use traditional channels as a key source for information, in addition to social media.  Research carried out by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner showed the opinion of financial journalist, Martin Lewis, was more influential than inventor Sir James Dyson, London Mayor Boris Johnson and former Prime Minister John Major. He was ranked as the most trustworthy voice regarding the European referendum.

Financial guru, Martin, who is a regular on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, has recently provided a refreshingly honest and simply take on the Brexit debate. He said: “It’s riskier to leave the European Union than to stay in it because change is always riskier. However, risk should not be automatically considered a bad thing. If you are risk averse you should probably vote to stay in the EU. If, however, you are of the view that you want change you should vote out… I’m risk averse. At the moment I am probably 55/45 for staying in Europe. 

“However, I, like everybody else, am still doing my research on this issue and what it means for me and my country.”

With the big day just nine weeks away, the UK public is gearing up to make a decision that will have an impact on the way we live and do business. Register to vote and have your say: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.

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