Content Marketing Blog

What swearing on Twitter means for the US election [STUDY]

Voters in the US go to the polls next year to elect Barack Obama’s successor, but before the general election we have the arguably much more entertaining race for the Republican nomination.

This week no fewer than 11 candidates took to the stage at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California to fight it out for the attention of Republican Party members and the wider electorate.

Donald Trump, the billionaire-turned-reality-TV-star, has dominated the campaign so far and still leads the polls despite getting attacked from all sides during the marathon 3-hour debate.

With two-thirds of the party still undecided there is plenty to play for and Trump is far from a shoo-in for next year’s general election, even if he was characteristically bullish in his post debate tweets.

Twitter generation could decide 2016 election

Whoever gets the nod to take on the Democrats in the race for the White House, Twitter is likely to play a big role in the battle to win over an increasingly social media savvy electorate.

Millennials, who have grown up using Twitter and other popular social media platforms, will have a significant impact on the outcome of next year’s presidential election.

According to the Reason-Rupe Spring 2014 Millennial Survey the big swing in the under-30 vote towards Barack Obama in 2008 was a major factor in the Democrats reclaiming the White House. In 2000, just 48 per cent of Millennials voted for Al Gore, compared to the 66 per cent who backed Obama eight years later.

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God-fearing conservatives versus potty-mouthed liberals

The Reason-Rupe report found Millennials were more likely to be independent than Americans over the age of 30 and would support candidates who split traditional party lines. But if you want a clue for which way young Americans will vote, read their tweets.

According to a study by researchers at Queen Mary University in London, Twitter users reveal their political leanings by the language they use, with conservatives mentioning religion more often and liberals much more likely to swear.

“Open social media provides a huge amount of data for use in understanding offline behaviour,” said lead researcher Dr Matthew Purver. “The way people talk and interact on Twitter can provide a more robust and natural source for analysing behaviour than the traditional experiments and surveys.

For Twitter users who followed the Democrat party “sh*t” and “f*ck” were among the ten most-used words once the most commonly-used English words, such as “the”, “be”, “of” or “and”, were removed.

But liberals don’t just turn the Twittersphere blue. They are also more likely to post positive tweets and tend to be generally more emotive and passionate with their language.

Republican supporters tweet about religion a lot more, with words such as “god” and “psalm” both regularly used. They are also more likely to use collective terms like “we” and “us” rather than “I” and “me”.

Useful lessons for content marketers

This study is a great reminder for content marketers of just how important it is to understand your audience.

Political persuasion is just one of the variables that can affect what people care about, the topics that will hold their attention and the type of language they will be more responsive to.

When you create a brief to guide your content marketing you need to start with a clear idea of who your audience is and how they behave online. Without that understanding it is very difficult to create content that will get noticed and prompt the sorts of actions that get you a return on your investment.

Adam Barber
Adam Barber About the author

Adam is one of Castleford's founders and remains actively involved in the day-to-day running of the business. He started out as a writer and still contributes regularly to our blog, covering SEO, CRO, social media and digital strategy.

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