Government courts controversy with Brexit videos

The government’s ‘Get Ready for Brexit’ campaign is in full swing, and Brexit-related videos on social media are featuring prominently, though not without controversy.

We decided to follow up our recent research on the way government departments are using video on Twitter, with a look at the nature and performance of these Brexit videos on Twitter.

And there’s only really one place to start, and that’s the Treasury’s short animated video championing the return of duty-free if we leave the EU without a deal.

While most of the videos we looked at were factual explainers, detailing plans and ways in which to prepare for Brexit, this one has been met with claims of ‘propaganda’.

The seven-second video has racked up 1.9 million views, 2,200 likes and 1,200 retweets, but plenty of criticism.

The video itself is simple but attractive with alcoholic drinks animating onto the screen. It’s in a 4:3 aspect ratio, so doesn’t take up as much screen space as a square video but more than a 16:9 landscape video.

But its contentious subject matter ensures it hasn’t struggled to gain attention.

Of the other four videos we looked at, all utilised the square 1:1 ratio we found to be the most successful at driving engagement during our wider research.

A film by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on food exports was the next most popular, with 12,600 views and 95 likes and retweets. 

By contrast with the Treasury video, this one featuring Dewlay Cheese as a case study, was more than 2 minutes long.

Our previous research found that videos under 30 seconds performed best on Twitter as a rule. But that doesn’t mean longer videos won’t be successful if well produced as both this example, and a video by the MOD on the Berlin airlift in our earlier research, showed.

All of the videos have been viewed several thousand times, with the lowest being a 16 second video from the Home Office on helping vulnerable citizens to apply for settled status. 

This achieved 3,600 views despite only 11 retweets and 15 likes - though no doubt helped by the Home Office having a Twitter following - at more than 900,000 - that is larger than the other departments.


Dept

Type

Published

Aspect ratio

Lengths

Likes

Retweets

Views

Beis

Piece to camera

06/09/19

Square

00:41

87

56

10.5K

Defra

Film

10/09/19

Square

02:07

95

95

12.6K

DHSC

Animation

12/09/19

Square

00:22

43

46

5.4K

Home Office

Film with animation

15/09/19

Square

00:16

15

11

3.6K

HMT

Animation

10/09/19

4:3

00:07

2,200

1,200

1.9M


By Nathan Coyne