In the run-up to South Africa’s 2016 municipal elections, we partnered with Livity Africa to understand youth priorities and to assess if Livity’s media campaign influenced young people’s propensity to vote.
Livity Africa believes that young people are the key to leading change in society, and through innovative media aim to engage youth in politics. For South Africa’s municipal elections (August 2016), their challenge was to design and deliver a dynamic multimedia campaign to spark conversations among young South Africans and to increase their interest in politics.
To effectively reach and engage young people, Livity Africa required nuanced insights into youth priorities to inform their campaign. Furthermore, crucial to funder reporting, Livity Africa needed to evaluate who the campaign reached and whether it had any impact on young people making it to the polls on election day.
WHAT WE DID
Africa’s Voices analysed social media data from Livity’s online platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp) to:
- Provide credible evidence of the impact of the campaign on voting behaviour. Through online questionnaires, we gathered and analysed audience data through private (Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger) and public (Livity’s established accounts on Facebook and Twitter) channels
- Deliver regular insights into youth discussions during the campaign to inform and shape Livity’s messaging. Delivered in an accessible and visual format, these insights allowed for an iterative refinement of the media campaign to boost youth participation and engagement, as well as to inform future campaigns.
INSIGHTS & IMPACT
Exposure to the #2X online campaign was associated with voting in the municipal elections (above). This association was stronger for exposure to the campaign on Facebook than on Twitter, and was particularly important for the younger groups, new voters and those with less interest in politics at the beginning of the campaign.
Young people talked on social media about a general dissatisfaction with the government and a sense of disparity, prejudice, discrimination, and injustice, focusing specifically on issues that impact their everyday lives. Rather than a top-down agenda that discusses politics in terms of a voting exercise, the findings suggest that future campaigns should leave room to be led by the concerns and interests of young people – which will vary between communities and with time — and can be discovered by listening closely.