Thursday, June 23rd proved to be a historic day for Europe, and it lit social media up like dynamite.

Brexit was a success: the UK decided to leave the European Union. Unexpected and bewildering to many Britons, and even more so for every watching from the outside, 52% of voters voted to leave the EU. 71.8% of the population turned out to vote, which is more than 30 million people. As for individual nations, England and Wales opted to leave, while Scotland and Northern Island voted to remain.

This has created a proper storm in the UK. It caused Prime Minister David Cameron to resign. Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence party, also stepped down (a surprising move on his part, considering his advocacy for the Brexit movement). All this has created great unrest in the UK. And people are ready to do something about it.

Thankfully for us, ‘doing something about it’ means making tweets about it.

Method to our Brexit Madness

We at Sotrender decided to take a look at how people were acting and reacting to Brexit on Twitter. Such controversial events always incite interesting reactions, and we wanted to see if we might learn a bit from it. We analyzed the activities of approximately 2 million users between 11 AM and 11 PM GMT on June 24th 2016 to see how they were wording tweets, which hashtags they were using, and what the most popular tweets were.

Popular Keywords 

What keywords were people using during the reactionary moments just after the Brexit decision? Let’s have a look. This word cloud is based on 760 thousand basic tweets analyzed, searching for the most popular keywords, excluding hashtags:

Sotrender Blog Brexit Wordcloud

If you look not-so-closely, you can see ‘fuck’ written under the ‘i’ of ‘brexit.’ No surprise there.

‘Brexit’ and ‘vote’ were the most used words, which is not surprising. People on Twitter were encouraging others to take part in the vote to a great extent. Even Donald Trump was sharing his opinion on the vote. Both ‘Donald’ and ‘Trump’ also managed to make it into the wordcloud. While generally being a controversial figure, he has also demonstrated his support for Brexit. He has claimed that the UK would be better off without the EU. Furthermore,  he was conveniently in Scotland during the reveal of the decision, where he was able to prove his ignorance once again. Thankfully, Lily Allen was on Twitter to help clarify his lack of knowledge.

Sotrender Blog Brexit Trump

Conversations also revolved around the final decision to leave and worrying about what happens now.

Popular Hashtags

Now let’s have a look at the most commonly used hashtags. This wordcloud is based off the same 760 thousand tweets analyzed, but this time only looking at hashtags.

Sotrender Blog Brexit hashtag wordcloud

#brexit was the most used hashtag, followed along with #euref, #eurefresults, #news, and #uk. Accordingly, Political figures were also used as hashtags quite a few times. However, Trump managed to be the most used political figure hashtag. Despite the fact that he wasn’t involved in the referendum. And let’s not forget the #euro2016 hashtag that was still used, as even brexit can’t completely kill the popularity of the EURO cup.

Below you can see the most used hashtags with ‘brexit’ in the tweet. Excluding #brexit, as that goes without saying at that point. You can see even from hashtag usage that #leave was more popular than #remain, even it is not even a 1, 000 tweet difference. And just cracking the list is #viral. You know, just in case brexit wasn’t viral enough.

Sotrender Blog Brexit Hashtag bargraph

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Best Brexit Tweets

People made a lot of good tweets in light of the Brexit voting results, with people wanting to voice their opinions and thoughts on the issue. But, like with all things, some tweets performed better than others. It’s therefore interesting to see what kinds of tweets received the most attention over such a controversial topic. Coming out on top with the most favourited tweet is Donald Trump, in fittingly irrelevant fashion:

Donald Trump’s Twitter page didn’t offer any insights into Brexit, naturally. But they did take the opportunity to bash Clinton and Obama, trying to gain some leverage against them for his campaign. And what’s a Trump tweet without a blatant insult to finish it off?

As always, Ricky Gervais took the comedic approach and called out the absurdity of the whole situation. Humor was actually the most successful response to Brexit on Twitter. Numerous funny tweets got a lot of attention over the analyzed period:

Seems like the EU wasn’t a high enough level to completely train the UK.

The lyrics to the latest Metallica single, Brexit Sandman.

We at Sotrender always appreciate terrible puns. But this one was legitimately good.

Boost Your Performance 

Amid all the debacle, you’ll find that there are some lessons to be take from the top tweets about Brexit.

First, you’ll notice that many of these tweets make pop culture references (Pokemon, Metallica, and South Park, in these cases). A good original joke is usually a safe bet on Twitter, but people also like being in-the-know on a joke through a reference. It can be a creative and fun way to spice up your humour. Referencing something from pop culture is always a good way to give your tweet a little boost. And it often doesn’t take much effort.

Brexit on Twitter is also an excellent example of brands and people taking advantage of real-time marketing. When such an event is scheduled to happen, it’s a good idea to prepare some tweets in advance. Don’t know what the outcome will be, like with brexit? Prepare for both scenarios and use the appropriate ones!

Were you surprised by the referendum results? Are you surprised by Twitter’s general reaction? Which tweets are your favourites? Leave us a comment below!

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