Stormcast DDI: The Science of Influence powered by big data

  • Over twice as many users are tweeting about the election from their mobile devices as using computer-based web-browsers
  • Top 50 list of the most re-tweeted shows Sturgeon the most re-tweeted party leader, while Milliband misses the top 50
  • Leadership debates the most shared URL’s
  • Explore the interactive user map

As the General Election campaign continues to rage through all available media channels, research shows that smartphones and other mobile devices are dominating the way individuals are accessing and sharing information about the political parties.

While the 2015 General Election may not be decided online (arguably it won’t be decided at the polls either), new research from Fourtold’s Stormcast Data Driven Intelligence service provides a deeper insight into how the election campaign is unfolding on Twitter.

1. Social media goes mobile:

Over twice as many users are tweeting about the election from their mobile devices as using computer-based web-browsers, and over three times as many as those using tablets.
Because smartphones, unlike TV or Radio, allow users to access information when they want and in the way they want, this provides important insights into the interests of social media users.

The majority of general election tweets are sent from mobiles

2. Parties’ followers stick to their own – but Tories are the most isolated

The way social media users exchange information highlights how these individuals access and share the information they value. To show this, we’ve mapped the interactions between Twitter users (based on retweeting) to determine how information is flowing around the #GE2015 Twittersphere: who’s hot, and who’s not.

To nobody’s very great surprise, an analysis like this reveals that users with similar party sympathies by and large cluster into small mutually reinforcing communities. This means when political parties produce campaign material it tends primarily to reach a small supporter base, rather than reach the wider audience: not likely to be a scene of miraculous conversions.

Big data mapping of the Twittersphere for the General Election 2015

We see from the map above that The Conservatives and UKIP are very much out on a limb, whereas left leaning parties, particularly Labour, have been more successful at engaging with a more broad community.

“This is a communication pattern we see regularly,” says Dr Ali Fisher, Head of Data Science at Fourtold. “Humans are frequently drawn to the people and ideas we agree with – as that information is useful to us, we return to those groups to get further information. We create relatively small self-reinforcing clusters: these clusters can project a very powerful message within the group. We have seen these small groups emerge on social media during previous elections including presidential elections in Iran and USA. In these cases, and political campaigns more broadly, the most important question is whether or not these small groups are able to connect with anyone else.”

3. Sturgeon the most re-tweeted party leader, Milliband misses the top 50:

In the hallowed halls of the most retweeted, the neutral groups (News and Political Comedy) are leaving the political parties far behind. While the official Lib Dem Twitter account (@LibDems) is the most retweeted so far, it is the only LibDem account within the top 50; while Labour and the SNP have 8 and 6 users respectively, including their official party accounts and the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon (at No.20). Meanwhile Ed Milliband is nowhere to be seen and David Cameron has just sneaked in at 50.

Top 5 users by political group

With the Twittersphere neatly carved up into party-political clusters, it’s also possible to look at who rules the roost in each cluster (LibDems had to be omitted here, as there’s only the @LibDems account to mention in this context). Pulling out the top 5 users from four of the key party-political groups it’s most interesting to note that the Conservatives alone lack a blogger in their court, while Labour have four, but no leader.

“Usually I’d rank users by how they interact with other top users: but in this case users are either posting their own content or are interacting with others, very few are currently doing both. This may change as election day approaches” Dr Ali Fisher, Head of Data Science, Fourtold.


4. BBC Election Live most shared URL this election:

While the BBC Election Live site hits the top spot, a close second for the most shared URL is the official .gov Register to Vote page. The success of SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon in the leadership debates is reflected in the SNP membership page being the third most shared URL. This Remix video of Ed Milliband saying “That’s not me” comes in at number 4 with 3636 views. The data for the most shared sites overall shows BBC, Guardian, Telegraph and ITV as the four most shared news sites in this election so far.

“The focus on the leadership debates within the most shared URLs is a clear indicator of how much the electorate value these chances to see their leaders go head to head. Few people can be bothered to read Manifestos now: aside from the trust issue, no one wants to plough through 80 pages of dense text and political jargon. What they do like to see is what happens when leaders are put under pressure: whether their arguments still hold up against the opposition.” Matthew Willis, Partner, Fourtold.

Get in touch to find out more about Stormcast DDI big data analysis and how you could use it to inform your communications strategy.