By morning, the U.K. voted to leave the EU, British Prime Minister, David Cameron announced his resignation, global trading markets dropped, and the British pound plummeted, leaving the world wondering, what does this mean for the future of Europe and global economies?
With 72.2 percent of electorate voter turnout for the referendum (33.5-million voters out of 46.5-million possible), this marked not only one of the most historic decisions since World War II, but also one of the greatest voter turnouts in the history of modern voting.
One of the critical factors in voter turnout was the use of social media. Social media had both their good and bad moments in the days leading up to the campaign. Slick high-quality videos were splattered all over YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. All social media was bombarded with mass postings that targeted younger voters. Social media devoured phones, tablets, and PCs in an effort to incite decision and turnout.
On the day of the vote, perhaps one of the biggest pushes to vote came from Twitter, as #iVoted, quickly became the biggest trending hashtag of the day. Eligible Facebook voters received an update on their newsfeed reminding them to vote, also enabling voters to share the post - noting they had voted.
Both sides of the referendum argued that a higher turnout would positively affect their side. And perhaps they were right. The turnout was driven by massive social media pushes. Although, the vote itself, may have been decided by which side made the fewest social media blunders.
With a much criticized campaign to target voting youth, the EU released mass social media posts, which quickly incited complaints. The problem? The ads targeted idiosyncrasies in youth speech such as dropping the “g” from words, for example “workin, and votin’”. While intended to target the youth, the ads were highly unpopular and in many respects insulting.
A post by supporters of the referendum released a photo on Twitter saying, “Act now before we see an Orlando-style atrocity here before too long.” The post was quickly deleted, but not before it had been copied and posted throughout social media, forcing politicians in favor of leaving the EU to scramble and distance themselves from the post.
Social media drives the most up-to-date coverage of any event, and as shown in the U.K., clever social media marketing campaigns reach out to a larger audience than ever before, and can drive voters to polling stations, as well as sway electorate opinions and votes by both popular and unpopular advertising campaigns.
In November, the United States faces one of the most controversial elections in its history. Taking from the historic U.K. referendum, one has to wonder if we will also see record voter turnout driven by the likes of Twitter and Facebook, and an election decided on slick marketing, or social media blunders.
Image Credit: Tomek Nacho | Flickr