The PN leadership campaign will soon be in full swing, with the two candidates Adrian Delia and Bernard Grech already battling it out for the tessarati’s vote in the upcoming leadership election which is touted to take place in early October.
Social media engagement can often be indicative of what the future holds. Indeed, Lovin Malta’s analysis of Chris Fearne and Robert Abela’s odds based on their social media performance last December proved to hold weight.
Despite survey’s predicting a victory for Fearne, Abela had a much stronger online engagement and went on to win the Labour leadership campaign.
So with that said, who’s got the stronger online presence and who fares better on social media ?
Let’s start from the Facebook page likes.
Delia leads Grech by a whopping 10,000 more likes on his Facebook page. This difference is probably best attributed to Delia’s incumbency, amassing the large part of his following throughout his three years in office. Meanwhile Grech remains a relatively fresh face.
However, surprisingly it is actually the newcomer who has the upper hand when it comes to the engagement displayed by those followers.
Bernard Grech overall gets more likes, comments and shares than rival Delia, despite the difference in number of followers on their Facebook pages.
For example, take a look at these posts of both Grech and Delia immediately after appearing on Lovin Malta’s special episode of Xarabank last Friday.
At the time of writing, Grech’s post has gathered some 1,800 likes, whilst Delia’s identical announcement has only seen around half of that, sitting at a mere 900 likes.
And it’s not just the Xarabank post … Here’s how people reacted to a similair post following an interview with Dione Borg on NET
Grech seems to consistently hit double Delia’s number of likes on almost every post. In addition, Grech’s follower base also seems to be growing at a far more rapid rate with over 762 new likes in the last seven days. On the other hand Delia has only seen 18 new page likes in that same time frame.
Of course, it is understandable that Grech would be enjoying more growth at this stage in his campaign, however, these are no fine margins.
The two rival candidates also very recently changed their profile pictures. Bernard Grech on 17th August and Delia on 25th August, the differences in likes, shares and comments is staggering.
It’s worth mentioning that there is also a huge discrepancy when it comes to the amount of money spent on paid advertisement between the two candidates’ pages.
Since March 2019, when Facebook started keeping a transparency register for sponsored posts, Adrian Delia has spent €14,257 of the PN’s money to promote content uploaded to his Facebook page. This included, but is not limited to interviews and addresses centred around the upcoming leadership campaign.
Lovin Malta flagged the issue of Delia using party funds to promote his personal page in an article published around a month ago. Since then, Delia seems to have taken heed of the advice and is now paying for ads through his personal page.
In stark contrast, Bernard Grech has spent less than €100 on sponsored ads on his Facebook page. He also never had access to Nationalist Party money in the same way Delia has, and therefore those ads are all paid for personally by him or his campaign.
Shifting focus to Instagram, Delia once again has more likes on his official page (5,255) in comparison to Grech (2,397) but appears to receive far less engagement than his rival on posts.
A recent MaltaToday survey published on 10th August placed Grech at a 63% approval rate ahead of Delia’s 23% approval rate. That survey had been carried out among the party card-holders (tesserati).
Social media engagements on the other hand are not limited to the tesserati but speak on behalf of a much larger population.
The numbers undeniably favour Grech with a wider online audience seeming to resonate more strongly with his message.
That’s not to say anything is set in stone. Though social media can be a good way of measuring popularity, the way that online popularity translates itself into real life can be notoriously unpredictable, as evidenced by the Brexit result.
The role for PN Leader remains open for the taking, and placing one week of social media performance under the microscope is no sure way of telling what will happen.