I’ve reached 1.4 million people in the last month, and I am quite proud of that

A little over three years ago, just as Cameron named the date for the 2016 Europe referendum, I set up a Facebook page as a place to … well, I wasn’t sure, to be honest … however, I knew I wanted to campaign online as well as face-to-face.

I threw myself into that referendum campaign. I did plenty of street campaigning right across the South West, speaking with voters in places like Truro, St Austell, Liskeard and Plymouth as well as Taunton, Stroud, Bristol and Bournemouth.

Also when I wasn’t shuttling between high streets wearing the uniform of the time – an “I’m IN” T-shirt is worn tightly and awkwardly over all one’s other clothes – I was populating that Facebook page with news, links that helped willing volunteers to find local campaign opportunities, and a whole host of other things.

Moreover, that has never stopped. Now, three years later, the Campaign to Remain – keep Britain in Europe Facebook page is a community of over 55,000 people. In the last four weeks alone the page’s posts have reached 1.4 million people and generated 1.3 million engagements – that’s likes, comments, clicks on links, etc. The top post alone has been seen by 135,300 people and generated 49,900 engagements.

If I take a step back, that number – 1.4 million – is quite scary. Nobody knows for sure how many people were on the march in London on Saturday, but if you watch the sped-up footage of its entire length, that’s probably roughly the number of people who’ve seen posts from my Facebook page in the last month. It is also approximately the number of times people who have clicked on links or left comments or liked a post over the same period.

I know many will respond that it’s all speaking to the bubble, to which I’d say two things.

Much of the 33 months since the referendum has been a long, hard, slow slog for campaigners. After all, we had to wait nine months before the Prime Minister even triggered the two-year countdown to our supposed exit from the EU (although is it still a countdown if Theresa May hits the snooze button?). Moreover, during that long period, it would have been easy for people to drift away from the issue, for May to have succeeded in trying to get us to drop our “remainer” and “leaver” identities. However, pages like Campaign to Remain helped keep the pot warm on the stove. That mattered when it came to marshalling the troops once the crunch came last November when the PM finally produced her botched deal.

Secondly the various groups, pages and sites have been so crucial in linking willing people to local groups (with tools like istopbrexit.info) and to give them suggestions about actions to take – encouraging people to send fewer template emails and instead to handwrite personal letters to MPs or to call their MPs’ parliamentary offices and ask to speak to them directly. Many people go to online groups precisely to find out how they can help in the real world.

The Facebook page was originally meant to be a three-month thing. I had anticipated mothballing it on 24 June 2016. However, of course, things didn’t turn out like that, and the need for it kept it going. Moreover, it feels like that need will keep on going because – in or out – we will need people willing to make a case for Britain in Europe.

* Stuart Bonar was the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate in Plymouth Moor View.

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3 Comments

  • @Stuart
    Thanks for all your effort.
    I tend to stay off facebook these days but I’ll take a look. Since it was monetized it has become so corrupt. Tend to use twitter but it can be very much of a bubble exercise (have just followed you) but you don’t seem to do much on that medium.
    Keep up the good work, it’s appreciated.

  • It’s a(n) heroic effort Stuart. Thank you for all you have done. I hope you are approved for the European Parliament elections?!

  • P.J. & Nick – thanks for the kind comments!

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