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Twitter & UK Politics

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Summary
Tweetminster was launched in December 2008 to gain visibility using Twitter than competing for
with the goal of making UK politics more open and web traffic with more established bloggers.
social. Our mission is to make politicians more
accessible to the public, help people follow breaking We believe that Twitter and other social media
news stories and make sense of political issues by platforms, if used effectively, have the potential
connecting directly with the MPs, journalists and to impact the next general election campaign and
politicos that shape the national debate. shape the 2010 parliament in unprecedented ways
that we can currently only make an educated guess
When we launched Tweetminster there were 4 MPs about - for the simple reason that many of these
using Twitter. As of January 19th 2010 there are 111 tools weren’t around the last time the UK took to
MPs and 226 PPCs on Twitter, and these numbers the booths. The sheer pace of change within UK
are growing daily. user engagement with social media platforms
means the public are constantly innovating how to
Tweetminster also tracks and analyses thousands best leverage the political potential of these tools
of posts by news sources, journalists, bloggers – often faster than political parties or the media.
and the wider “UK politics network” (defined by However, we can say with some certainty that
our bespoke network analysis tools) comprising whatever the impact of social media on the general
thousands of influential activists, writers, bloggers, election, 2010 will set new standards for digital
pundits, analysts and opinion leaders within the engagement in local and national politics, open data
Twitter community. and accessibility, with all parties and government
departments putting digital engagement high on
Over the last twelve months we have seen a their agendas.
shift in how Twitter is perceived as a political
communications tool, notably there are now more The aim of this report is to share with you an
MPs tweeting than blogging – a development that analysis of the data that underpins the Twitter and
has surprised many in the political community who UK politics network. The report encompasses an
felt text-based blogging would remain the primary overview, our top-5 findings and a summary of data
social media tool for UK politicians. This shift around MPs, PPCs and News & Comment.
in social media activity may be because Twitter
posts connect with a wide number of users and
conversations whilst requiring less investment of
time than long-form blogging. This convenience
factor, combined with the public attention focused
on Twitter in 2009, means it is easier for politicians

Tweetminster.co.uk | ©2010-2011 Tweetminster


Overview
831,349 tweets were analysed in this report.
800000

700000

600000

500000

400000

300000

200000

100000

0
Total Number of Total number of Total number of Tweets
tweets by MPs tweets by PPCs by political news sources,
journalists and bloggers

Total number of tweets by MPs: 48,167


Total number of tweets by PPCs: 75,530
Total number of tweets by political news sources, journalists and bloggers: 707,652

Tweetminster.co.uk | ©2010-2011 Tweetminster


Total number of followers (MPs, PPCs and official
party accounts) by Party:

120000

100000

80000

60000

40000

20000

0
Labour: Conservatives: Liberal Democrats:
113,201 36,874 32,202

Labour: 113,201
Conservatives: 36,874
Liberal Democrats: 32,202

Tweetminster.co.uk | ©2010-2011 Tweetminster


Politicians on Twitter - breakdown by region

Eastmidlands – 21
North East – 11
Wales – 23
Northern Ireland – 1
East – 32
North West – 32
South East – 40
27 Yorkshire & The Humber – 25
West Midlands – 27
London – 57
Southwest – 37

1 11 Scotland – 27

32
25

21
27 32
23 57
37 40

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Top trends* within UK Politics for 2009

1. cpc09 (Conservative Party Conference)


2. lab09 (Labour Party Conference)
3. Labour party
4. BBC Question Time
5. Tories
6. David Cameron
7. Twitter
8. Obama
9. Climate Change
10. Hope

*Trends: the most frequently mentioned terms within tweets around UK politics.

Tweetminster.co.uk | ©2010-2011 Tweetminster


Top five findings

1 – In terms of politicians, the Labour Party number of followers, their challenge is breaking
dominates all key metrics – collectively Labour into conversations that go beyond party supporters,
MPs and PPCs are more active, more frequently especially in terms of how these then influence the
mentioned (i.e. have greater reach) and have mainstream media agenda.
more followers than the two other main parties
combined. 5 – While as expected established mainstream
news sources have a higher number of followers
2 – Senior party members can play a critical role in than bloggers and commentators, individual
connecting with members of the public: Nick Clegg journalists and bloggers receive more mentions
and Eric Pickles standout in all tables well above and retweets. This is probably due to a combination
their party’s average metrics. of factors - including that the latter are more
engaging, post different angles and commentary
3 - The findings for official party accounts show a around a story, and established sources tend to
different picture – the Conservatives not only have broadcast links (that followers may click on but not
significantly greater reach than the other main interact with the source) or stories that followers
parties, but also their posts tend to have greater have caught up with elsewhere. Comparatively
distribution (i.e. mentions and retweets) than the blogospheres of the two main parties show
established media and key bloggers. relatively similar figures in terms of followers and
reach.
4 – The data shows that the Conservatives are
more effective at distributing their message from Based on our data we predict that the next
the top, yet less so at a grassroots level in terms election (on Twitter at least) will be between
of spreading these positions within conversations the Conservative party machine and Labour’s
(this should be the work of supporters, MPs, grassroots activists’. We also feel that individual
PPCs). While Labour has the opposite challenge journalists, beyond the media organisations they
– members drive conversations, yet the official represent, will play a critical role in influencing
line doesn’t strategically trickle down. The Lib how a message is framed.
Dems are somewhere in between – while the data
is in-line with expectations, and reach-wise the
party punches above its weight when looking at the

Tweetminster.co.uk | ©2010-2011 Tweetminster


The Data (Members of Parliament)
Number of Tweets by Party
40000
Respect 85
35000
Scottish National Party 104
30000
Social Democratic and Labour Party 105
25000

20000 Conservative 2083

15000 Liberal Democrat 7031


10000
Labour 38759
5000

MPs on Twitter – party breakdown

Respect 1
Social Democratic and Labour Party 1
Plaid Cymru 2
Scottish National Party 3
Conservative 16
Liberal Democrat 23
Labour 65

Tweetminster.co.uk | ©2010-2011 Tweetminster


The Data (Members of Parliament) cont.
MPs by party & followers

100000

80000

60000

40000

20000

Social Democratic and Labour Party 606

Plaid Cymru 647

Scottish National Party 748

Respect 4342

Conservative 19247

Liberal Democrat 22754

Labour 91061

Tweetminster.co.uk | ©2010-2011 Tweetminster


The Data (Members of Parliament) cont.
Most mentioned MPs - top 20

0 3000 6000 9000 12000 15000

* This figure included retweets.

Kerry McCarthy 14921


John Prescott 4902
Tom Watson 4634
Tom Harris 3624
Andrew Gwynne 3454
Nicholas Clegg 2731
Nadine Dorries 2083
Edward Balls 1886
Edward Miliband 1870
Jo Swinson 1602
David Miliband 1490
Eric Joyce 1307
Siôn Simon 1030
Eric Pickles 907
Sadiq Khan 881
Jim Knight 605
Sandra Gidley 459
Grant Shapps 434
Ben Bradshaw 422
Harriet Harman 419

0 3000 6000 9000 12000 15000

Tweetminster.co.uk | ©2010-2011 Tweetminster


The Data (Members of Parliament) cont.
Most Retweeted MPs – top 20

0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200

0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200

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The Data (Prospective Parliamentary Candidates)
Party Breakdown
SNP 1

Plaid Cymru 16

Libertarian Party 3

UKIP 5

Independent 6

Green Party 7

Liberal Democrat 42

Labour 63

Conservative 78

Number of followers by party


Scottish National Party 127

25000 25000
Plaid Cymru 209

20000 20000 Libertarian Party 1402

Independent 2137
15000 15000
Green Party 3400

10000 10000
UKIP 4761

5000 5000 Liberal Democrat 9268

Conservative17627
0 0
Labour 22140

Tweetminster.co.uk | ©2010-2011 Tweetminster


The Data (Prospective Parliamentary Candidates) cont.
Number of mentions - top 20

0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000 3500

* This figure included retweets.

0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000 3500

Tweetminster.co.uk | ©2010-2011 Tweetminster


The Data (Prospective Parliamentary Candidates) cont.
Most Retweeted PPCs- top 20
05 01 00 150 200 250

05 01 00 150 200 250

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The Data (News & Comment)
Followers - top 20

0 500000 1000000 1500000 2000000

0 500000 1000000 1500000 2000000

Tweetminster.co.uk | ©2010-2011 Tweetminster


The Data (News & Comment) cont.
Number of mentions - top 20

Tweetminster.co.uk | ©2010-2011 Tweetminster


The Data (News & Comment) cont.
Most Retweeted - top 20

*uklabour is 126th

Tweetminster.co.uk | ©2010-2011 Tweetminster


About Tweetminster
Established in December 2008, Tweetminster is a media utility that aims to make UK politics
more open and social.

You can use Tweetminster to:


• Find and follow MPs and PPCs on Twitter: http://tweetminster.co.uk/
• Connect and interact with those that shape the issues that matter to you: politicians, news
sources, journalists, bloggers, commentators and influencers -
http://tweetminster.co.uk/livewire
• Access curated lists of relevant news, commentary and politicians
http://twitter.com/tweetminster
• Measure the pulse of UK politics in real time: dynamically analyse and make sense of
information and data around political conversations and news stories:
http://search.tweetminster.co.uk/pages/about

Find out more: www.tweetminster.co.uk


Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/tweetminster
Get in touch: wire@tweetminster.co.uk

Tweetminster.co.uk | ©2010-2011 Tweetminster


Editorial notes
• Data for this report was collected between January 1st 2009 and January 15th 2010.
• Data for MPs and PPCs is analysed from when Tweetminster added the relevant account to its
systems (this is usually no later than a few days from when the individual joins Twitter).
• Fail whales may have caused temporary interruptions in the collection of data during the
course of the analysed period.
• Mentions are all tweets posted by an user containing another person’s username.
• Retweets are posts pre-fixed by “RT” (or posted via Twitter’s retweet feature introduced in
2009) and tweeted by a user who is re-posting someone else’s original post.

Tweetminster.co.uk | ©2010-2011 Tweetminster