A Médianéző Centre Survey of Partisan Interactions on Social Media
Fidesz has prevailed on social media during the coronavirus crisis: its posts have promted two and a half times more people to respond than those of the opposition parties aggregately – reveals the latest social media analysis by Médianéző Centre. The opposition camp, however, lacks stable power relations.
Party Contest on Social Media
The coronavirus crisis has significantly increased internet data traffic and net-based communication, and has had a similar impact on the public’s interaction with political parties. In the last two months, between 4 March 4 and 4 May, Fidesz proved much more successful than its opposition challengers. Fidesz’s Facebook posts prompted a total of 2.8 million interactions (likes, shares and comments) while in the case of the total opposition, this number is just over 2.5 million. The post contest of the opposition parties does not necessarily reflect opinion polls: based on the interactions, Jobbik is the most popular opposition party (19 percent), followed by the Democratic Coalition (12 percent), and the Socialist Party and Dialogue for Hungary (7.5 and 7 percent), while Momentum Movement and the LMP finish last (2 and 0.5 percent).
It is telling that during the period under review, Fidesz created 909 posts only, while the opposition’ sum total came to 2004 posts. It can be calculated from the available data that a Fidesz post promted an average of 3 119 Facebook users to respond, while the average opposition post drew 1 305 responses only. Data from Facebook Ad Library also reveals that Fidesz achieved these results without paid advertising, ie its use of social media is significantly more efficient than that of the aggreagte opposition.
Government Information on Social Media
During the emergency government communication has been more intensive than usual in order to ensure protection against the coronavirus, and has placed more emphasis on the use of social media. The visible result of this is that the Hungarian Government’s official Facebook page more than doubled in the period under review: the number of friends jumped from 182 000 to 380 000. An even bigger change is seen in the number of follows, which has tripled to 528 000 compared to the pre-coronavirus period. During the surveyed period data show that this particular Hungarian public affairs social media page was growing at the fastest rate (111 percent) indicating that the Hungarian Government’s Facebook page is accessed as the primary source of information on protection during the emergency.
Politicians’ Public Facebook Profiles
Due to the quick and efficient handling of the crisis, it is no surprise that the number of friends on Viktor Orbán’s now 10+ year old Facebook page has grown most dynamically among Hungarian politicians during the coronavirus epidemic. The 15 most popular posts were all created by Viktor Orbán and the Hungarian Government in relation to the fight and defense against the coronavirus. Moreover, the number of the Prime Minister’s friends on Facebook has increased by almost a quarter (180 000) during the surveyed period making it 850 000. This number is higher than all top five opposition party leaders’ number of friends . His posts received an average of 17 000 interactions, many among them 40 to 50 000, and some recieved responses from over 100 000 people. All this happened in the case of both Fidesz and the Prime Minister without using paid advertisements, while opposition party leaders spent almost HUF 2m on advertising not including their respective parties’ expenditure. Nevertheless, competition among the opposition is tight, even if they lag behind: Ferenc Gyurcsány managed to get 6 400, Péter Jakab 5 300, and Gergely Karácsony 4 600 interactions on average, while the party leader with the least interactions was Bertalan Tóth, with only 850 interactions on average.
The survey was carried out on the official Facebook page interactions (likes, shares, comments) and number of friends and follows of Fidesz, Democratic Coalition, Dialogue for Hungary, Hungarian Socialist Party, Momentum Movement, LMP – Hungary’s Green Party and Jobbik Hungary Movement, as well as on the interactions, likes and follows in connection with the official pages of their leaders (Viktor Orbán, Ferenc Gyurcsány, Gergely Karácsony, Péter Jakab, András Fekete-Győr and Bertalan Tóth) as well as their advertising spending between 4 March and 4 May 2020. Data on interactions, likes and number of follows was sourced from www.socialbakers.com on 9 May 2020. Data on advertising spending was sourced from Facebook Ad Library at https://www.facebook.com/ads/library/report/?source=archive-landing-page&country=HU on 09 May 2020.