November 25, 2020

What influences the influencers?

Author:
Meghan Oliver, Director
WhatsApp has overtaken Twitter as the social media channel used most often by influencers

BCW Brussels and Savanta ComRes EU Media Poll 2020

In 2020, as the way we consume news and information changes at an accelerating pace, fact-based, transparent and timely information has never been so important. Neither have the decisions made by policymakers had such a palpable impact on our day-to-day lives.


The EU Media Poll is BCW Brussels and Savanta ComRes’ annual study of EU opinion-formers and decision-makers’ media and social media consumption that sheds light on the sources of influences shaping decisions in the Brussels bubble.

Savanta ComRes interviewed 183 EU influencers (made up of 38 MEPs, 50 EU institution staff and 95 Brussels opinion formers) online between 20th March – 31st July 2020. A standalone survey of the same questions was conducted 7th September – 16th October 2020 just among MEPs. A full methodology note can be found at the end.

EU Media Poll: 4 Key Findings

1. The Financial Times is most often considered influential in terms of providing EU news and the information influencers need to make informed decisions.

The Financial Times is most often cited as influential in terms of providing the news and information EU influencers need to make informed decisions. Four in five (81%) EU influencers consider the Financial Times ‘very’ or ‘fairly influential’, rising 20 percentage points since 2018 where three in five (62%) said the same.

Whilst missing out on the top spot, Politico remains the media source most likely to be considered ‘very influential’ amongst EU influencers, with nearly half (44%) stating this.

 

2. Influencers that consider the Financial Times ‘very influential’ cite its levels of expertise, the quality of journalists and its positive reputation as key reasons.

Those considering the Financial Times and the Economist to be ‘very influential’ associated their influence with the level of expertise, quality of journalism and reputation, whilst Politico’s influence was attributed to its insider access, audience reach and timeliness. Insider access is mentioned by almost nine in ten (86%) of those considering Politico ‘very influential’. Perhaps, as ‘realpolitik’ takes a backseat during the COVID-19 crisis, insider access carries less capital than expertise and a positive reputation.

 

3. WhatsApp has overtaken Twitter as the channel or application that influencers use most often.

WhatsApp has overtaken Twitter as the social media channel used most often by influencers. This is because all influencer groups are more likely to use WhatsApp more often than in 2018. One in five (21%) Brussels Opinion Formers don’t use this channel, a larger proportion than either MEPs and EU Institution Staff (8% and 4% respectively).

MEPs polled are more likely to say they use Twitter often (95% compared to 79% in 2018). MEPs are also the influencer group most likely to have used Facebook, since all MEPs polled (100%) have used this app. MEPs (84%) are also twice as likely as EU Institution Staff (42%) to use Facebook at least once a week. This is likely due to many MEPs using Facebook to connect directly with constituents.

We can also see a proliferation of other social media channels and phone applications used for professional purposes; just over one quarter (27%) of influencers say they use a method other than the ones tested here to communicate online. This compares to just 3% in 2018.

 

4. As in 2018, personal and professional relationships are the most influential in providing influencers what they need to make informed decisions.

As in 2018, professional relationships remain most influential, with 90% of respondents indicating they influence their decisions. Information provided by EU institutions and Member States (89%) and personal contacts (87%) are also considered highly influential.

International (83%) and policy specific (84%) media are both considered much more influential than new media sources such as social media channels (42%), social media influencers (39%), and podcasts (30%). National or local media sources are rated more highly among MEPs, as 9 in 10 (89%) consider this source to be influential, compared to around 7 in 10 EU Institution Staff (70%) and Brussels Opinion Formers (73%).

 

Methodology Note

2020
Savanta ComRes interviewed 183 EU influencers (made up of 38 MEPs, 50 EU institution staff and 95 Brussels opinion formers) online between 20th March – 31st July 2020. A standalone survey of the same questions was conducted 7th September – 16th October 2020 just among MEPs. MEP data is not weighted. Brussels Opinion Formers and EU Institution Staff data are weighted to be proportional in size to each other.

2018
Savanta ComRes interviewed 230 EU influencers (made up of 76 MEPs, 43 EU institution staff, and 111 Brussels opinion formers) online between 13th March and 25th May 2018. Data is then weighted to be representative of EU influencers by organisation type, and MEPs by party and region.


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