Philippine election lights up social media conversations, citizen engagement

The presidential election held in the Philippines this week lighted up social media, mainly Twitter and Facebook, as voters and non-voters alike take poll-related conversations online.

Facebook said with 22 million people engaged in conversations related to the elections on the social media site, which generated 268 million interactions, makes Filipinos the most engaged Asia-Pacific elections on Facebook to date.

On Twitter, four million tweets were posted on the day of the elections, bringing to over 35 million the total number of poll-related tweets since the start of the year.

Tweets on the day of the polls were more than 10 percent of all elections-related conversations in 2016. The conversation peaked at 5,600 tweets per minute at 7:30 p.m. on election day on 9 May as people began talking about the early voting results.

As social media can be a leading indicator of people’s interests, the most mentioned presidential candidates on Twitter was the current frontrunner, Rodrigo Duterte. Over the past 7 months (from October 12, 2015 to May 9, 2016), Duterte was the most discussed candidate on Twitter, accounting for 40 percent of all mentions, almost equal to the next two leading candidates (Jejomar Binay and Mar Roxas) combined.

On Facebook, Duterte (71 percent) also topped the candidates being talked about in the run-up to the polls from November 20 to May 7, followed by Mar Roxas (52 percent), Grace Poe (47 percent), Jejomar Binary (29 percent) and Miriam Defender-Santiago (24 percent).

The top vice presidential candidates being talked about were Alan Cayetano (42 percent), Leni Robredo (39 percent), Ferdinand Marcos (27 percent), Francis Escudero (27 percent), and Gregorio Honasan (3 percent).

Interestingly, the most engaged provinces discussing election (as a percent of province monthly actives) before the polls were Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental, and Ilocos Norte, which are known bailiwicks of Duterte.

Transparency (71 percent) was the most talked about election-related conversation throughout, followed by economy (35 percent), education (28 percent), social welfare (27 percent), defense and foreign policy (19 percent), health (17 percent), infrastructure (8 percent), environment (4 percent), trafficking (2 percent).

Meanwhile, video triumphed as one of the most engaging forms of content on Facebook.

“Some of the best-performing content was video and the launch of Facebook Live gave candidates an even easier way to reach people at scale. There were 168 videos by presidential candidates, and 432 videos posted by the vice presidential candidates,” Facebook reported.
The global interest in the general election was also noted.

Twitter said citizen engagement was reflected in the #TwitterElection conversation over the past 30 days from all over the world - from the US to UK to Europe to the Middle East to Asia Pacific - including Tweets from many Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). 

The three #PiliPinasDebates2016 Presidential TV debates likewise generated Twitter conversations worldwide to nearly 5 million tweets combined.

“The live conversations on Twitter, from the Presidential TV debates to Election Day, provide the pulse of the nation and enable any Filipino’s voice to be heard around the world,” said Rishi Jaitly, Twitter’s Vice President of Media for the Asia-0Pacific and Middle East.