Is a social media win enough to win elections?
Two days ago President Tayyip Erdoğan gave the kind of motto to the opposition that the latter was unable to find for a long time: “Enough” or “Alright” (tamam). He said that if citizens tell him “tamam” then he will step down.
“Tamam” became a worldwide trending topic within hours, and more than 1.3 million tweets were shared with this word in one day. Hollywood stars like Elijah Wood and internet celebrities like Amanda Cerny also joined in the conversation by saying “tamam.”
After a while the word meaning “more” or “continue” (devam) also started to be shared by accounts supporting the president. At the peak point there were around 400,000 tweets with “devam.” One opposition TV channel, Halk TV, even started citing the number of tweets with both keywords like it was airing election results.
After it became obvious that the “devam” campaign would not be able to reach the level of the “tamam” campaign a number of politicians began to smear the latter, saying nearly all the tweets were being shared by bot accounts linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the network of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen in foreign countries.
I analyzed the tweets via a third party application and found that 89 percent of the “tamam” tweets were shared within Turkey. And when I saw who was sharing them it was obvious that they were regular people, not terrorists.
All in all it can be said that the opposition scored a big victory over President Erdoğan on social media. But does this win mean anything for the results of the upcoming snap elections on June 24? Does it mean the opposition has already won? Will the opposition votes be on par with the 1-3 “devam”/“tamam” ratio on Twitter?
Can we really claim that the opposition will get three times as many votes as Erdoğan? I hardly think so.
There were an estimated 600,000 unique accounts that shared “tamam,” which amounts to only around 0.75 percent of the population. That is a huge number for Twitter but it means very little when you consider the voter base. Also it would be safe to assume that a majority of Erdoğan’s supporters do not use Twitter, while a bigger proportion of opposition voters use it.
It is therefore very interesting for opposition supporters to act like everything is over after one social media win. Perhaps it is just a relief for them, or it may be just a joyous occasion. But that’s about it.
Social media is very important when it comes to reaching people, especially when there is a snap election and such a short space of time in which to reaching people face-to-face. It is also very important for mobilizing young voters. But if the opposition wants to win on June 24 it has to build a strong momentum to the “tamam” campaign that has naturally started online.
After all, a social media win means nothing when people are alone in the voting booth thinking about their future.