Wednesday 7 December 2016

Exclusive: Social media to play 'critical role' in referendum on same-sex marriage

Online traffic shows massive rise in Google searches about same-sex marriage and use of #MarRef hashtag

Published 14/05/2015 | 12:43

New research released to Independent.ie by Tinderpoint suggests that social media could impact the outcome of the upcoming referendum.

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Stats compiled by Irish digital marketing agency Tinderpoint show that the #MarRef hashtag has been used over 100,000 times over the last 30 days, gaining over 1.8m impressions daily on average.

The company's research shows that 64% of commenters are male, with the majority of the conversation happening in Ireland, albeit with inputs from the U.S, Britain and Ghana.

A comparison of search terms within Google shows that since last March, there has been a dramatic rise in search terms such as ‘gay marriage’, ‘marriage equality’, ‘marriage referendum’ and ‘same-sex marriage’. Despite calls from LGBT groups to refer to ‘same-sex marriage’, ‘gay marriage’ continues to be the most common term, scoring the highest against similar search terms.

Gráinne Healy, Yes Equality spokesperson said:

“As with any 21st century campaign, online and social media play a very important role in Yes Equality's communications work, especially when reaching out to young people.

With 60 local campaign groups, as well as a nationwide bus tour bringing our message to town squares across Ireland, social media provides the perfect channel to tell the stories of the groundswell of democratic engagement taking place at both local and national level.

We've no doubt that social media will also play a critical role in getting the vote out on polling day.”

Keith Mills, spokesperson for Mothers & Fathers Matter, said:

“We are not in the slightest bit surprised that there is a very slight advantage to the ‘Yes’ side given that all political parties and many minor celebrities have advocated redefinition of marriage and that social media has a bias towards the under 35s.

Independent.ie research - February 2015
Independent.ie research - February 2015

However as the campaigns gain more attention, we are confident that the strong arguments we in the ‘No’ side are putting forward, combined with respect for traditional marriage in the over 40s will mean that there will be a balanced debate and a positive outcome for Irish families and children.”

John Ring, Managing Director of TinderPoint, noted that the surge in online conversation and traffic showed that the topic is at everyone’s fingertips:

"The rise in online traffic shows just how important this referendum is to many Irish people, not just those in the LGBT community. Regardless of the final outcome, it is interesting to see the role online and social media have to play in this Referendum.”

On May 22nd, Ireland will hold a referendum on the issue of same-sex marriage and another related to lowering the age of presidential candidates.

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