The heat is on for Singapore’s political parties steaming ahead with campaigns largely taking place online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While that campaigning has just begun, a survey of the social media horse race so far finds that while Singapore’s long-ruling party continues to enjoy the largest audience, opposition parties are turning more digital heads and making inroads with content that resonates, scoring greater engagement and interaction.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong remains the most popular political personality in Singapore but he seems to be doing the heavy lifting when it comes to impactful online engagement on behalf of his party. Fast-gaining popularity is Singapore Democratic Party leader Chee Soon Juan, who earned the most number of new followers in recent days.
As candidates and their parties vie to break through the noise; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even Telegram are abuzz with political content aimed at voters’ hearts ever since the general election was called last week.
The parties have only seven days – including today – to campaign before Singaporeans go to the polls July 10. In the days leading up to Nomination Day yesterday, a Coconuts Singapore review of data from CrowdTangle, Google Trends, and Socialbakers show who’s gaining the most new followers, and winning the battle for interactions, shares, and mentions.
When it comes to Facebook audience size, the People’s Action Party, or PAP, blows away all other 10 parties with its 201,300 followers. The Workers’ Party’s audience of 120,800 comes in a distant second.
PAP is all over 12 different outreach platforms including an app and email list, with the most followers across the primary channels of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
But it’s not growing that audience at the rate of some newer parties, which have seen their fanbases grow quickly in the week since the election was called.
Former presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock’s Progress Singapore Party added the most new Facebook likes – 8,000 – in a week that also saw it announce that the prime minister’s brother, Lee Hsien Yang, had joined. The Workers’ Party was next with 7,200 new followers in recent days, notably after it teased its candidates in a video. Another widely shared video won considerable praise for its relatability.
The Singapore Democratic Party also gained a considerable number of new followers in the past week: Its page gained 2,000 new likes since June 24.
That’s not to say that PAP hasn’t added followers, but its expansion has been slower given its size. Similar to the Workers’ Party, PAP gained about 7,300 new Facebook followers.
Singapore’s party bosses have also gained new Facebook followers in recent days.
With a 1.5 million-strong following, PM Lee Hsien Loong has the biggest audience of all, but Chee Soon Juan (Singapore Democratic Party) is growing at the fastest rate, with 3,000 new fans in the past week.
The 56-year-old has been regularly updating his page with videos of himself on walkabouts.
CrowdTangle statistics show that he put up the most posts (46) in the past week compared to other popular political personalities.
Chee, along with Tan Cheng Bock (Progress Singapore Party), have around 100,000 followers each, followed by Singapore People’s Party chairman Jose Raymond, who has about 57,000.
WP’s Pritam Singh is the least popular of them all with just 34,000 likes – 2,400 of which he gained in the past week.
Other party leaders have negligible Facebook followings.
It would seem that Singh’s political party, which has been around since the ‘50s, is much more popular than him.
On Instagram, it gained the most followers in the past week with 5,000 new fans while the PAP gained around 2,700 new followers.
WP’s Twitter account is also among the fastest growing political accounts, according to Socialbakers. It gained 1,500 new fans followed by Lee Hsien Loong with 842.
When it comes to clicks – reactions, comments and shares – WP has accumulated the most in the past week with nearly 170,000 “interactions.” Trailing behind is PAP’s roughly 120,000, followed by PSP with around 87,000 and SDP with about 44,000.
Good or bad, WP seemed to provoke the most. It was No. 1 in terms of interactions despite putting up nearly one-third the number of Facebook posts than the PAP. Among its 93 posts were its popular meet-the-candidates videos.
On Instagram, however, PAP is seeing the most amount of interactions in terms of likes and comments with nearly 37,000. WP is behind with 25,400 interactions, which is still impressive considering it only posted 14 items in the past week compared to 69 new PAP Instagram posts.