Support for junior doctors' strike on Twitter was high, analysis finds

Support for the junior doctors' strike earlier in January outweighed opposition by more than 50 percentage points on Twitter, according to analysis by Blue Rubicon.

Junior doctors: Outside Great Ormond Street Hospital in London (Credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire/Press Association Images)
Junior doctors: Outside Great Ormond Street Hospital in London (Credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire/Press Association Images)
Only five per cent of nearly 58,000 tweets between 4 and 19 January that mentioned the strike opposed it while 59 per cent demonstrated support. The remaining mentions were neutral.

High profile influences on Twitter, such as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, the @ButNHS account and Dr Ben Goldacre helped mobilise support for the strike, with around 27,000 retweets of content supporting it, compared with fewer than 1,500 against, Blue Rubicon's analysis found.

Pro-strike voices also mobilised earlier than those against, with a spike in conversation on 8 January as supporters urged each other to retweet their views.

Twitter supporters of the strike coalesced around the #SmearTheDocs hashtag in response to a story in The Sun newspaper, which attempted to brand junior doctors as "Champagne-swilling socialists". 

Doctors and their supporters retaliated by sharing imagery and ironic humour to show how unglamorous their lives are, which won more Twitter users to their cause.

The agency’s findings chime with an Ipsos Mori survey that showed 66 per cent of the public backed the doctors.

Following the strike, some public affairs professionals told PRWeek they believed that doctors had won the first round against the Government in the battle for public opinion.

Commenting on its analysis Mark Wainwright, senior digital consultant at Blue Rubicon, said: "As a consultancy we place emphasis on taking an audience-orientated approach, and conversation around the doctors' strike shows the importance of this."

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