Over recent weeks it has been almost impossible to avoid talk around the EU Referendum, as everyone across the globe has given an opinion on whether the United Kingdom should remain IN or vote OUT of the European Union. But what role has social media played in the campaign?

According to the Electoral Commission, last year saw the Conservatives spend over £1.2 million in the build up to the General Election on Facebook, while Labour spent just under £16,500. This disparity widens even further in regards to Google Advertising as the Conservatives spent over £312,000 compared to Labours £372. So with only a few days to go, what can social media tell us about the EU Referendum?

The power of social media

According to data from Brandwatch, which have crawled millions of tweets over the past month, there have been over five million mentions around the EU Referendum which is a staggering number!

eu referendum twitter

Brandwatch data also shows the political figures being mentioned in relation to the EU Referendum debate, and it comes as no surprise to find David Cameron at the top of the list. What is perhaps surprising is that Jeremy Corbyn falls behind US Presidential hopeful Donald Trump:

eu referendum twitter

eu referendum twitter

As you can see from the statistics above, Brandwatch identified that on the voter registration deadline there were over 30k mentions of people talking about registering on the day. On top of this, many called for the deadline to be extended after reported problems with the website being used to register. This was granted and as a result deadlines were extended to the end of 9th June.

While it’s a massive talking point – both in print and online media – the amount of traction being given on social media to talk around the vote is astronomical. Of course, none of this information indicates whether the UK will remain IN or OUT, but the stats are very interesting to see and the data received shows the fact that leave-related hashtags are DOUBLE the rate to remain ones. Food for thought there…

Encouraging voters

Paul Stephenson, Communications Director of the campaign group #VoteLeave, told the New Scientist:

“Facebook is the prime social media platform. There’s a massive bias towards Facebook; we think Twitter is more of an echo chamber for Westminster and journalists,” he says. “Both campaigns have £7m to spend and we’ll be putting a significant chunk of that into Facebook.”

It’s clear to see both sides are mainly using the Facebook platform to encourage people who already support the chosen campaigns to vote rather than attempting to change people’s minds from the different camps. As such, the social media campaigns have been more about showing that their vote matters and attempting to motivate them.

While the majority of people have seemingly made their mind up on a knee-jerk reaction, online advertising has become an efficient way of hitting key demographics and educating them directly and in different ways and means. The logic makes sense, as the online space is great to sell your message with much less restrictions and more defined audience and hyper-targeted demographics.

So, in light of these facts, it will be interesting to see how much traction social media has influenced potential voters. We are in the midst of a potentially world-changing vote and the past few weeks have proven to be very interesting.

With so much of the news being dominated by the impending EU referendum, it’s clear that it means something different to everyone. With the country split down the middle and a lot of people still unsure which direction they want to go in, issues such as immigration and the economy take centre stage as politicians battle it out. However, the global search engine industry is one such area that should be considered.

Despite everyone having their own opinion, it is clear that the EU does have some say in a lot of issues that can affect specific industries. The global search engine industry in particular has seen some interesting twists and turns over the years with its run-ins with the EU. But does the Union actually have any influence over the inner workings of such search engines?

New EU legislation

New legislation recently adopted by the EU under the Network & Information Security Directive has revealed the EU’s stance on what makes a search engine. Both the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union came to an agreement after 2 years of negotiation, stating that Google is ‘not a search engine’. Under the same definition, which states that a search engine must search all pages of the web, Bing, Yahoo and DuckDuckGo are also not classified as search engines.

Google does not search every single website; it doesn’t include the dark web and it also doesn’t search or index pages that it’s not directed to by a site’s robots.txt file. According to the EU’s new definition, there is not one global search engine that matches the criteria.

Furthermore, the EU’s own Right to Be Forgotten ruling states that users can request to have outdated or irrelevant content removed, which Google complies with. This is a further argument as to why Google is not a search engine, which seems slightly ironic.

What does this mean for Google?

In all honesty, the way the EU defines search engines is probably not going to make a whole lot of difference. Current global search engines, not just Google, have spent years refining their methods and the way they operate. This means they are unlikely to change it all due to one piece of legislation.

The only way it may have an influence is in regards to legally using the term ‘search engine’ to describe their business within the EU; however, if this became a problem it would probably cause a backlash of some kind.

On-going problems

The EU have had issues with search engines such as Google for some time now. 2014 saw a resolution passed by the EU to split up the different aspects of Google’s business. Based on complaints from Microsoft and other competitors, the EU have been investigating Google on and off for the last 3 years. Whether this will all amount to something, no one is sure yet, but if the EU take action it could mean restrictions and fines for the search engine powerhouse.

Only last year, the EU challenged Google for the first time with antitrust charges. Accusing Google of abusing its dominance, the EU brought in charges that could impede Google’s moneymaking.

This is the first time any sort of antitrust law issue has arisen against Google despite all past issues. The EU could certainly have an influence here in putting pressure on the company to address complaints that it favours its own products in search results over its rivals’ services. This is something that is still on-going today.

Global search engine market share

It may be clear by now that Google clearly holds the biggest share in the global search market. While Microsoft and Yahoo put up a decent fight in the United States with 30% of the market share between them, Europe shows a different picture. Back in 2014, Google had more than 90% of the market share.

Google’s clear dominance in the global search engine industry, while not illegal, is certainly something that has caught the eye of EU regulators. Their influence has put some pressure on the search giant over the past few years.

If you need help in deciding how the EU referendum is going to affect you, check out our guide to voting if you’re a UK business!

We’re drawing ever closer to the EU Referendum Vote, and as the 23rd June looms, businesses are starting to ask the big questions as they look for a clearer picture on the benefits of leaving and staying.

Currently we are being faced with ‘scaremongering’ tactics from both sides, but as no country has ever left the EU before, no one really knows what could happen when faced with this question, and this uncertainty is driving the need for hard facts and figures to be laid out. Ultimately, businesses are focusing on whether they would be better out of the 28-member union, looking into how trade would be affected across larger and smaller businesses and how new trade deals could be beneficial to all.

In this blog we’re going to run through a few of the key facts and figures that have been released, to help show you how Britain could end up either way; we’re being totally unbiased, to ultimately educate you. So how could the EU Referendum affect UK businesses?

Small Vs Large Businesses

What we’ve witnessed so far is that bigger businesses are predominantly gunning for a Brexit, whilst smaller SME’s are in favour of staying, and there are a number of reasons being argued by each side.

Recognisable business heads including Tim Martin, Founder and Chairman at Wetherspoon, Sir James Dyson and the Head of JCB, amongst others, have each expressed their opinions surrounding an exit. Tim Martin has ordered 200,000 beer mats to be placed in each of the 920 UK Wetherspoon’s, see below for image. The focus of the beer mats message is the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and its leader Christine Lagarde, asking why the UK should trust her views.
Wetherspoon Brexit Beer Mat

Whilst no one could predict exactly what could happen in the event Britain leaves the EU, it’s clear that at least initially a Brexit has the potential to cause a negative impact on businesses. Shock and uncertainty would create a knock on effect to the economy, with the pound already struggling due to the uncertainty prior to the referendum.

Generally, smaller businesses are worried about how trade, movement of staff and offices in countries across the EU would be affected following a leave vote. With these kinds of businesses protected by EU laws and regulations, would these still be in place following a Brexit? No one can answer the questions regarding new trade deals, and how these laws and regulations would work.

How Would Trade Be Affected?

The EU is a single market in which no tariffs are imposed on imports and exports between member states, with more than 50% of our exports going to EU countries. Currently, Britain benefits from trade deals between the EU and other world powers including the US, with negotiations happening now to create the world’s biggest free trade area “something that will be highly beneficial to British businesses”, according to the BBC.

It is information such as the below that is vital to the decision making surrounding an exit, the Twitter account @BBCRealityCheck is taking these ‘facts’ that leaders of each side are putting out there and creating a place where you can see the real information behind the figures to ultimately help people and businesses make an informed decision.

If the vote on the 23rd June results in Britain leaving the EU, new trade agreements will be put in place, with many of the leave supporters arguing that these would place Britain in a much better position to trade across the world, arguing it would allow Britain to become a global hub for entrepreneurs.

David Cameron recently stated that there are 3 million jobs linked to trade in the EU, arguing that these could be jeopardised if we leave. However, these are not direct jobs, these are links to trade and the status of these would wholly depend on the new trade deals that would be drawn up following a Brexit.

If you haven’t registered to vote yet and you thought you’d missed your chance, don’t worry you’ve been given a lifeline. The deadline has been extended to midnight tonight, register to vote here.