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Tories Lag on Social Media ‘Battleground’ Despite Huge Spending

Throughout the General Election campaign, the effectiveness of social media strategies has varied significantly among the UK’s leading political parties. While Labour has excelled on TikTok and Reform UK has garnered significant traction on Facebook, the Conservative party appears to be lagging behind.

The Conservatives have invested over £700,000 on Facebook adverts since the election announcement, yet their engagement metrics pale in comparison to Reform UK. Data from Meta, covering May 29 to June 27, shows that the Conservatives and Rishi Sunak have achieved only a quarter of the total interactions amassed by Reform and its leader, Nigel Farage.

On TikTok, the disparity is even more pronounced. Since the country’s leading parties launched their accounts in May, Labour has accumulated over five million likes, vastly outpacing the Conservatives’ 780,000 likes.

Drew Benvie, a social media expert and chief executive of the consultancy firm Battenhall, emphasized the significance of social media in modern political campaigns. “Social media is crucial for reaching UK voters, especially younger, disenfranchised, or disengaged individuals who haven’t voted before,” he said. Benvie believes that social media will continue to be a battleground with a lasting legacy over the next few years.

The entrance of the main parties onto TikTok marks a new frontier in the electoral battleground. Labour’s strong performance on the platform, with about five million likes, can be attributed to their savvy use of internet culture, viral trends, and popular memes to engage their 208,000 followers. An example of this is a clip featuring Cilla Black, which earned over 700,000 likes and mocked Prime Minister Sunak’s national service policy.

In contrast, the Conservative Party’s TikTok strategy has been more straightforward. With around 70,000 followers, their account focuses on policy explainers and direct communication from party members like Lord David Cameron and James Cleverly, rather than viral trends. They have made occasional attempts at humor, such as a post featuring toy dolls representing Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, which received mixed reactions.

The Liberal Democrats, with around 24,000 followers on TikTok, have adopted a strategy similar to Labour’s, using memes and humorous content to critique the Conservatives. Their posts also include lighter, more personal content, such as videos of Sir Ed Davey paddleboarding and going down a water slide.

Reform UK, which launched its TikTok account in 2022, has accrued nearly two million likes. The account is primarily fronted by Nigel Farage, featuring clips of his speeches and campaign trail highlights. Reform’s TikTok strategy underscores the platform’s role in this election, described by Benvie as “very much a TikTok election,” with parties utilizing memes, trending sounds, and humorous clips to engage under-24-year-olds.

On the platform formerly known as Twitter, now X, the parties have continued their long-standing presence. Labour leads with one million followers, while the Conservatives have 625,000, the Liberal Democrats 340,000, and Reform 360,000. The amount of interactions doesn’t necessarily indicate support, as seen in a controversial Conservative post critiquing Labour’s immigration policies, which garnered mixed reactions.

Labour’s approach on X mirrors their TikTok tactics, often sharing posts based on viral memes. Their top-performing post since the election announcement was a retort to Sunak’s tweet about being tough on crime, which garnered over 30,000 likes and 1.5 million views.

The Liberal Democrats have similarly found success on X with posts criticizing the Conservatives. One notable post, edited to show prominent leaders at an international ceremony without David Cameron, highlighted Sunak’s absence and received significant engagement. For Reform, their top X posts include videos of Farage discussing immigration.

On Facebook, despite being the eldest of the major social platforms, Reform UK has outshone others in terms of engagement during the election period. Meta’s data from May 29 to June 27 reveals that the Conservatives spent over £700,000 on about 2,500 ads but only garnered 521,000 interactions. In contrast, Reform spent just over £300,000 on fewer than 200 ads, yet achieved 2.23 million interactions.


Labour’s Facebook efforts, costing over £500,000 on about 6,600 ads, resulted in just under 600,000 interactions. The Liberal Democrats spent £98,000 on 3,589 ads, achieving nearly 40,000 interactions.


Benvie emphasized that Facebook and Meta’s massive user base ensures their continued relevance. Despite not matching the engagement levels of newer platforms, Facebook remains vital in reaching older voters, including those aged 25 and above. Therefore, all parties continue to maintain an active presence on Facebook.

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