How candidates used social media for the 2022 election

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Data from a study by Rappler and Manila-based data consultancy Nerve shows it’s a tight two-way presidential race between Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Leni Robredo on Facebook, Twitter and TikTok

MANILA, Philippines — On social media, former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Vice President Leni Robredo are vying for the presidency.

It’s a two-way race between the consistent top 2 in pre-election polls by reach and popularity on Facebook, Twitter and TikTok. But unlike field surveys where Marcos Jr. enjoys a wide lead over Robredo, the race seems tighter on social media.

As the Philippines prepares to elect a new leader in 2022, Rappler and Manila-based data consultancy Nerve examined how candidates and their supporters have used social media for their campaigns. The data showed that Marcos Jr. and Robredo dominated social media conversations, while the other eight contestants were far behind.

Below is a summary of the findings. For the full report, read this Rappler+ exclusive: On social media, it’s a two-way presidential race between Marcos, Robredo

Facebook: well-coordinated vs voluntary

Robredo is slightly ahead of Marcos Jr. in terms of total Facebook mentions, but her lead doesn’t necessarily mean she’s winning on the platform since not all conversations about her came from pro-Robredo communities.

Marcos Jr. still has the most coordinated network on Facebook of all the candidates. Its community operates in a vacuum, effectively drowning out content from sources other than those supporting it.

The large proportion of supporters in the Marcos Jr. network indicates that the online information operations that have been going on for years have succeeded in creating a huge echo chamber of Marcos family supporters.

But the growth of Robredo’s volunteer network on the platform is trying to challenge that.

The Robredo community’s strategy on Facebook seemed to be to channel content into more neutral spaces, in order to reach new people and cross borders. Robredo can draw on content from mainstream news outlets, which diversifies its network’s content sources.

Instead of a large group of supporters like that of Marcos Jr., Robredo’s network shows a huge presence within shared communities, which reflects efforts to penetrate the spaces they share with supporters of other candidates. – probably an attempt to reach out and convert.

Robredo on Twitter, Marcos on TikTok

Robredo wins a mile on Twitter. Election-related conversations on Twitter come largely from pro-Robredo communities.

On Twitter, the accounts found in the analysis were grouped into groups based on the similarity of the accounts they follow. Data from Graphika showed that the pro-Robredo (21.4%) cluster is larger than the pro-Marcos (7.62%) and pro-Duterte (9.16%) clusters combined.

The Marcos Network has attempted to break into Twitter using freshly created accounts to spread pro-Marcos propaganda similar to what is rampant on Facebook, but it has so far failed.

Still, although Robredo showed a large lead on Twitter over Marcos Jr. and other contenders, there were only 10.5 million users on the platform at the start of 2022, according to We Are Social. That’s a far cry from the number of Facebook users in the country at 83.85 million.

Meanwhile, Marcos Jr. dominates TikTok, which has 35.96 million users in the Philippines at the start of 2022. It has become a key social media platform as more election-related videos have been posted on the platform before May 2022. It has also increasingly become an avenue for misinformation.

Was Robredo able to build her network of volunteers big enough and fast enough to break through the seemingly impenetrable walls of Marcos? Ultimately, the results of the 2022 election will decide whether Robredo’s more organic campaign approach has succeeded in catching up and breaking up Marcos Jr.’s massive army of supporters – both online and offline. – Rappler.com

This study was carried out in collaboration with The nerve, a Manila-based consulting firm that specializes in analyzing data to produce powerful insights and stories. Believing that data can have real impact, the company empowers partners across a wide range of industries to reduce clutter and extract value and meaning from diverse datasets. The insights guide partners’ business decisions and help them better engage with their communities. Made up of a team of data scientists, business strategists, award-winning storytellers and designers, the company is on a mission to turn data science into data relevance.

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