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While we’re only voting next week, the race to the 2019 polls began as early as 2014 for some parties. Social media has been a prominent driving force and barometer for public sentiment which political parties have been able to use as early as the 2009 elections.
But what if the ballot didn’t exist, and Twitter likes and follows were instead counted as votes in an election?
Using social analytics platform SocialBlade, we take a look at how the big three political parties in South Africa stack up online, looking in particular at their Twitter performance between New Years Day, and 1 May — just a week before the 2019 national elections.
African National Congress (ANC)
“Votes”: 35 970
A new TV ad featuring President @CyrilRamaphosa has been launched. Watch the President share his vision for addressing South Africa’s biggest challenges as we count down the days to elections on May 8. #VoteANC #GrowSouthAfrica pic.twitter.com/Fe7rYivq2Y
— #VoteANC (@MYANC) April 26, 2019
While the ANC may be the majority party in South African politics, it is not the majority party on South African Twitter. That said, it has been performing notably better online than the DA in recent months.
Since 1 January, its Twitter account gained more than 35 000 new followers. These have come from the fewest number of tweets of the top three parties too, just 4000.
Its Twitter efforts has been ramping up since January though. It tweeted more than 1000 times in January, while its busiest month in the past two years came in April, with 1360. That’s around 45 tweets a day.
Unsurprisingly, the ANC’s biggest month for followers in the past two years came in February 2018, when Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn in as president. It gained over 34 000 followers in this month alone.
At present, the ANC’s Twitter account has more than 650 000 followers.
Democratic Alliance (DA)
“Votes”: 17 900
On the 8th of May 2019, we have a choice.
Either we stay on this path, or we make a change for the better. Only you can #BringChange!
WATCH and RETWEET – This is the real South Africa: pic.twitter.com/ONBXjARav4
— Democratic Alliance (@Our_DA) April 15, 2019
South Africa’s second biggest political party is trailing behind its two biggest rivals on Twitter.
It gained less than half the followers the ANC gained between 1 January and 1 May 2019, but tweeted more often than the ruling party during this period. What makes this number even more interesting is that the DA leader Mmusi Maimane’s follower count is more than double that of South African president Cyril Ramaphosa.
Since its account was created in 2009, the DA has tweeted more than 95 000 times — more than half the number of tweets posted by the ANC. Notably, the ANC’s twitter account is also two months older than the DA’s.
At the time of writing, the DA’s Twitter account has more than 551 000 followers.
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)
“Votes”: 69 100
— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) April 10, 2019
Last but certainly not least, the EFF is South Africa’s biggest political party on social media. By quite some margin. To put its online dominance into perspective, it had more followers in January than the DA and ANC had in May 2019.
On 1 May, the party racked up more than 730 000 followers, gaining 69 000 in 2019 alone. More interestingly, its most successful month in the past year also came after Ramaphosa was sworn in as president of South Africa. In fact, the EFF gained more followers (4000) than the ANC during this period.
It has, however, been the most chatty political party on Twitter between 1 January and 1 May though. More than 5400 tweets were posted during this time. April was its busiest month, posting more than 2500 tweets during this period, an average of 83 a day.
It’s also worth noting that the EFF’s Twitter account is three years younger than the DA’s and ANC’s.
At present, the party has more than 740 000 followers.
Feature image: etereuti via Pixabay