Analysis of Rotherham by-election and foster parents news on Twitter

An analysis of recent tweets mentioning the word Rotherham throws up some interesting results. The first graph looks at the ‘level of buzz’ on different days and perhaps not surprisingly the top day was November 25, the day after the news came out that social workers at Rotherham council had removed three children from their foster carers because the carers were members of UKIP.

Rotherham by-election Twitter buzz

A more interesting graph is the one that identifies the top users by share of voice:

Rotherham by-election share of voice

The top two tweeters by share of voice are Respect by-election candidate Yvonne Ridley (43%) and Respect MP George Galloway (25%) with the rest all about in the 7-11% range. Another on the list is Richard Lowe (UKIP’s by-election candidate). Blogger Harry Cole, the Telegraph’s James Delingpole and Patrick O’Flynn, chief political commentator of the Express also make the top ten.

The top nine most shared URLs are all about the UKIP foster parents story with the tenth being a Guardian story on Labour’s controversial selection process.

The related phrases word cloud surprised me as the dominant related topics were not foster parents, council or UKIP as I had expected.

Rotherham by-election related phrases word cloud

In fact none of the related phrases stand out more than any of the others. It is interesting to note what words do not appear. New Labour, Nigel Farage, Denis Macshane and Yvonne Ridley all do appear, but Labour and Sarah Champion (Labour’s by-election candidate) don’t, although Sarah and Bluebell Wood (Sarah Champion is CEO of this Rotherham hospice) do.

As a comparison I also took a quick look at the results for Croydon North where there is also a by-election. Once again Respect’s candidate Lee Jasper is a related phrase, but not Labour’s candidate Steve Reed. If you exclude the automated @CroydonFeed then once again Respect dominates the conversation with Lee Jasper and George Galloway topping the list. Although this time three Labour names do make the top ten – Richard Angell from Progress, Coop Party staffer Martin Tiedemann and shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna (who incidentally beat Labour’s candidate Steve Reed to win his own selection in Streatham).

One possible explanation for Labour’s candidates not appearing on either related phrases cloud is the rather odd use of @sarah4rotherham and @steve4croydon as Twitter handles. The use of campaign names rather than real names give the impression of being terribly impersonal and that the candidates are only interested in votes, rather than individual local people and issues. It looks like 20th century campaigning using 21st century channels.

It also shows that Respect is putting more energy into using Twitter and that Twitter doesn’t actually reflect what is happening on the ground.

I used Edelman’s TweetLevel to analyse tweets between November 11 and November 27.

About Stuart Bruce

International communications consultant and PR trainer specialising in online public affairs, digital corporate communications, online PR and social media; frequent national media commentator and conference speaker.

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