Social media masters of LegCo elections

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A localist “goddess”, a pan-democrat love novelist and two pro-establishment veterans are leading in a race where netizens vote by ‘likes’.

(Data collected by Socialisn, a social media monitoring and analysis platform, between 1 July, 2016 and 31 July, 2016)

A few pro-establishment figures may have their fair share of Facebook followers, but the champions of social media are the pan-democrat and localist camps.

‘Long Hair’ Leung Kwok-hung (梁國雄) of the League of Social Democrats (LSD) is the most ‘liked’ politicians with over 205,300 ‘likes’ on his public page as of 9 August, 2016. Despite declining popularity for LSD and Leung as shown by a recent HKUPOP rolling polls, the radical pan-democrat  has accumulated an impressive amount of support as one of the earliest social media activists in Hong Kong, getting online in mid-2008. Young Democrat Roy Kwong Chun-yu (鄺俊宇), who has a huge fan base as a romance novelist first, politician second, is approaching the 170,000-mark. Together the two pan-democrats are the only pols to break the hundred-thousand threshold.

But successful social media management is about more than ‘Likes’; interactions matter. Kwong continues to lead in interaction (reactions and comments) while moderate pro-establishment candidates Ricky Wong Wai-kay (王維基) and James Tien Pei-chun (田北俊) are also star performers. A bit of cheekiness – in the case of Tien in particular – always helps. For Wong, his vocal online support base is a mix of people backing his HKTV bid as well as those who share his ABC (‘Anyone But CY’) stance.

Other pro-establishment big guns hardly get on the list with one rather surprising exception: Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee (葉劉淑儀). While Ip performs well in terms of page and post likes, the number of comments is rather modest compared to Tien and Wong. In many cases it is the same group of people who are making the comments.

Localists, with their youthful following, perform as well as expected.  Yau Wai-ching (游蕙禎) of Youngspiration, often dubbed the ‘goddess’ of the localist camp, has the highest post-reactions-to-page-likes ratio. While longer-standing politicians may have slowly accumulated lukewarm followers overtime, the high degree of interaction for localists means they have an opportunity to appeal for active followers who can become volunteers, protestors or foot soldiers in cash-starved campaigns.

If the government is trying to drive people away from radical localists, it isn’t working. On 2 August, 2016, Edward Leung Tin-kei (梁天琦)’s Facebook page ‘Likes’ jumped from 21,797 the day before to 28,023. His nomination was disqualified by Returning Officer Cora Ho Lai-sheung (何麗嫦) on the same day. Sometimes a loss at the hands of the government can be turned into a social media win, expanding the appeal and reach of the dispossessed – a social media silver lining to counter the Administrative cloud.