Who is vying for your vote on Facebook? 5

Who is vying for your vote on Facebook?

Political parties and candidates are using social media to get their messages out, with paid advertising being used by election hopefuls across Scotland.

This story was amended on 3 July 2024 to update the figures with the latest available data.

The Ferret looked at who is buying the most adverts on Facebook, which constituencies money is being poured into, and which parties are hoping paid posts will win votes.

Meta’s Ad Library provides information about political advertising on its platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram. The data includes the wording of the advert, how much was spent on it, how many people were targeted by it, and how many people the ad reached. Spending information is not exact, but shows the cost of an ad, as a range. Most of the ads were in the £0-99 range. A single ad can cost thousands of pounds, depending on the size of the audience and other factors.

Paid posts on Meta platforms allow advertisers to show their posts to a wider audience, and select characteristics of the intended audience, such as location, age or personal preferences. 

Our analysis reveals that so far this year, political candidates, or parties advertising on their behalf, ran 1,800 ads and spent between £93,000 and £278,000 on Meta advertising.

More than two thirds of ads were posted after the general election was called on 22 May.

Labour ran more Meta ads than any other party, and there’s been a prominent spending surge since the start of the official election campaign. Labour has been focussing its ad spending on Scotland’s central belt constituencies, where the party is projected to win.

The SNP increased its Meta ad expenditure in the last week of the campaign, posting 128 ads. Its 34 candidates collectively spent between £4,000 and £32,000. Robert Leslie, candidate for Orkney and Shetland ran 32 ads while Toni Giugliano, candidate for Falkirk, where polls suggest a toss-up, ran 31 ads.

MP hopefuls who ran most Meta ads in 2024 were the Argyll and Bute councillor, Tommy Macpherson, an independent candidate for the Argyll, Bute and South Lochaber constituency, with 212 ads. Labour candidate Martin McCluskey ran 92 ads to win votes in Inverclyde and Renfrewshire West. Labour’s Kirsty McNeill, director at charity Save the Children, spent between £10,000 and £17,500 on 69 ads targeting voters in Midlothian. John Lamont, who has been a Conservative MP in the Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk constituency since 2017, spent between £6,000 and  £10,500. 

So far, 116 candidates in all but two constituencies have used social media advertising in 2024. Sixteen candidates, including six from the SNP and five from Alba have launched their ad campaigns on Meta in the last week. 

This article was amended at 2.38pm on 26 June 2024 to include details on data source. The following was added: “Spending information is not exact, but shows the cost of an ad as a range.” “Most of the ads were in the £0-99 range. A single ad can cost up to thousands of pounds, depending on the size of the audience and other factors.”

Main image: iStock

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