News. Politics. Social Media.

Month: July, 2012

A glass of orange juice remembered as Bev Oda’s legacy on social media.

Canada’s former Minister of International Co-operation Bev Oda officially retired from the House of Commons yesterday. As Oda returns to life as a private citizen she leaves a controversial legacy in her wake.

The Good:

First elected to the House of Commons for the Conservative Party of Canada in 2004, Oda was named opposition critic for the Ministry of Heritage. Re-elected in 2006 as a member of the Conservative Party’s minority government she was named Minister of Heritage and in 2007 was appointed Minister of International Co-operation (CIDA). Oda has the distinction of being the first Japanese-Canadian member of parliament and cabinet minister.

As Heritage critic Oda introduced Bill Bill C-333, the Chinese Canadian Recognition and Redress Act, that called on parliament to recognize the unique contributions of Chinese immigrants to Canada’s and the injustice done to them as a result of racist legislation. As Minister of CIDA Oda received praise from international aid organizations for Canada’s response to the earthquake that rocked Haiti in January 2010. She also restructured Canada’s foreign-aid program on a core group of the world’s most needy countries. Oda was also the Minister responsible for seeing the Conservative government’s policy of increasing funding for maternal health in Third-World nations.

The Bad:

These policy successes were not without controversy themselves. Some organizations suggested Canada’s response to the Haiti disaster lacked focus and Oda took considerable heat over Canada’s decision to give aid for maternal health while withholding funding for abortion services.

In February 2011 it was revealed that Oda had ordered a staff member to enter a hand written annotation – the word “not” – to a 2009 recommendation for funding for KAIROS – a Canadian faith-based ecumenical organization – that resulted in the recommendation being ignored. When asked about the issue in the House of Commons Oda first told Parliament that she did not know who had made the annotation and then later, when threatened with contempt of Parliament, she admitted to giving the direction to her staff.

Despite these controversies Oda was re-elected to the House of Commons for the riding of Durham with considerable margins in both 2008 and 2011.

The Ugly:

In the end it was a $16 glass of OJ that brought Bev Oda’s career as a cabinet minister and member of Canada’s parliament.

In 2011 Oda attended an international conference on the immunizations of poor children in London, England. Rather then stay at the hotel being provided by the conference Oda opted to stay at the much more expensive Savoy hotel and rented a limousine to transport her. While staying at the Savoy and working on a speech late at night Oda ordered the fateful glass of OJ.

Based on the social data it would appear that a glass of OJ is how Canadians are remembering Bev Oda. Whether it will become a lasting legacy, overshadowing her work as MP, opposition critic, and cabinet minister will only be know in time. The word cloud to the right represents the 50 most used words on social media conversations related to Bev Oda on her last day as a Canadian politician.






The Council of the Federation: A Social Media Review

Last week Halifax, Nova Scotia hosted Canada’s premiers and territorial leaders for the annual Council of the Federation meetings. The meetings promised to be great political theater as the premiers and territorial leaders tackled the subjects of health care reform and the creation of a national energy strategy. As the premiers met in ‘Canada’s Ocean Playground’ Canadians across the country weighed in with their thoughts on social media.

Center Stage: Health-care delivery and the debate over a national energy strategy.


Premiers Brad Wall of Saskatchewan, and Robert Ghiz of Prince Edward Island presented their report on health-care reform at this year’s summit. It was at last year’s Council of the Federation that the premiers were taken by surprise when Ottawa announced its decision to stop using its funding power to enforce national standards of service delivery, and give the provinces more autonomy to recreate their health-care systems. The premier’s report: ‘From Innovation to Action’ is the first public response from the provinces.

The biggest announcement was that the provinces will begin purchasing generic prescription drugs in an effort expected to save millions of dollars. Premier Ghiz has suggested this plan could save the Atlantic provinces upwards of $15 million dollars annually.

National Energy Strategy.

The debate over a national energy strategy was the other topic to dominate this year’s Council of the Federation meetings. Premier Alison Redford of Alberta has been advocating for the creation of a national energy strategy. Such a strategy would allow Alberta to move its land locked oil through British Columbia via privately owned, publicly regulated pipelines and deliver it to Asia bound tankers.

The national energy strategy is a politically contentious issue. Premier Redford of Alberta and Premier Christy Clark of British Columbia have been exchanging words for some time over royalties earned by the Northern Gateway project – BC is fighting for greater royalties. The dispute boiled over Friday when Premier Clark announced that British Columbia would not sign a national energy strategy unless it met a list of demands.

While the national energy strategy is territorially a western issue the Atlantic Canadian premiers are demanding it be a truly national strategy. Atlantic Canada is concerned about energy self-sufficiency and New Brunswick’s premier, David Alward, raised the issue of extending an oil pipeline to the region to relieve the pressure of having to purchase foreign oil.

Premiers Greg Selinger of Manitoba, Alison Redford of Alberta, and Kathy Dunderdale of Newfoundland & Labrador will be chairing the national energy portfolio as the premiers forge ahead with the plan with or without British Columbia.

The Social Reaction

Canadians kept track of the proceedings on social media throughout last week; following and debating the issues as they emerged. Not surprisingly Canadians focused their attention on health-care and the national energy strategy. Both subjects saw a triple digit percentage increase in total conversations over the week before.

Mentions of the premiers increased as well. Not surprisingly the premiers Christy Clark and Alison Redford dominated social conversations, followed by Nova Scotia premier and host, Darrell Dexter. Premiers Brad Wall and Robert Ghiz, authors of the health-care report, round out the top five mentions.

Next year’s Council of the Federation is scheduled to be hosted by Ontario.

Social Media Monitoring Can Inform Political Parties What To Poll For

This blog was originally authored by me and published on the Radian6 website on July 20, 2012. I’m posting it here for posterity.

On Wednesday, I looked at the question, “Can social media be used for political polling?” In the end, my answer was no. The most convincing evidence I found against its use was in the scientific methodology pollsters use to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the results.

I briefly discussed some industry-specific reasons social media monitoring could not be used for political polling and hinted that there was still a crucial role social media monitoring could play in polling strategy.  This is the subject of today’s blog.

A Bit of Background

In the last Canadian general election, Twitter featured prominently for the first time. All of the political parties had a presence on Twitter, as did the leaders. News organizations published stories to the web that were instantly shared. It inspired many to refer to the 41st general election as ‘#elxn41’ and “Canada’s first social media election“.

The Conservative Party of Canada, the governing party, and the Liberal Party of Canada, the Official Opposition, had been the only two parties to govern Canada in its history. The New Democratic Party of Canada (NDP), formed in 1961, had never formed the official opposition in Ottawa. The Green Party of Canada had never successfully elected a member of parliament (MP) and their leader, Elizabeth May, had already lost one bid for a seat in the previous general election. Finally, the Bloc Quebecois, a separatist party that only runs candidates in the province of Quebec, ran candidates again.

Conventional wisdom at the outset said that nothing would change. The Conservatives were expected to hold on to power. Whether they would win a majority government depended – it was thought – on how well the Liberal Party did. The NDP was expected to finish third, and the jury was out on how the Green Party would do.

Conventional wisdom, as it turned out, would be mostly wrong.

In the end, the Conservatives did hold on to power and won their first majority government in 23 years. For the first time in Canadian history, the NDP became the country’s Official Opposition, the Liberals were reduced to third place in Parliament, and the Green Party’s first MP, their party’s leader, was elected.

Now that you have some historical and political context, let’s break down the social and polling data to understand the place of social media monitoring in political strategy.

Political Conversations on Social Media are Not Representative

We know how the election turned out in reality.  Nanos Research published a tracking poll three days prior to the May 2nd, 2011 election day showing that these results were likely.

This Nanos tracking poll reflects the actual make up of the House of Commons after the election. Data gleaned from social media monitoring paints a different picture.

Monitoring all mentions of the individual parties’ hashtags with the #elxn41 Twitter hashtag, which became the center of English language political discussion (Francophones in Quebec used a separate hashtag to discuss the election), shows that the NDP would have formed the government in a landslide victory.

The problem is that the trend graph reflects the total number of mentions each hashtag received; it does not take into account voter intention. The pie chart below shows the share of voice each party enjoyed on social media.

The Canadian House of Commons is comprised of 308 seats. Had social media correctly predicted the outcome of the election using the cumulative data available, the NDP would have formed a minority government with 100 seats. The Conservatives would be Canada’s official opposition with 95 seats. The Liberals would have placed third with 78 seats, the Green Party would have 29 seats and the Bloc would have finished with six seats.

Of course, it didn’t turn out this way.

Early Warning Signals

While I hold firm to my position that social media monitoring cannot be used for political polling, I also maintain that there is an important place for it within the industry. Social media monitoring allows political strategists to see what issues are hiding just below the surface and can help inform what they should be polling for.

As the election got underway, the media began focusing more on the race between the Liberal Party and the NDP. This narrative wasn’t supported by traditional polling (see the Nanos poll above) that showed the NDP had dropped in approval ratings since the first day of the campaign.

The social data tells a different tale. If we isolate the data on the trend graph to show only the Liberals and the NDP, we see their share of voice was extremely close throughout the election.

In fact, the Liberals and the NDP battled it out for the lead on a near daily basis until April 21st, when Canada’s national media reported that polls showed the NDP over-taking the Liberals.

What Does It Mean?

The social data was telling a story that was not being picked up by the national polls. This is not a fault of the polling agencies. There is little in the social data that would give any reliable indication regarding voter intention.

The social data in this trend line tells us only that both parties were being talked about roughly the same. When compared to the national polling data, it tells us that something is going on, not what exactly, but enough to commission a poll to find out if voting intention is shifting.  In retrospect, this was what was happening, as the April 21st poll revealed, but conventional wisdom said it would never happen.

These last two blog posts have been longer then normal. I appreciate you reading and please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section.

Can Social Media Be Used for Political Polling?

This blog was originally authored by me and published on the Radian6 website on July 18, 2012. I’m posting it here for posterity.

Every month, there are one or two blogs that look at the topic of using social media for opinion polling.

It made me curious as to whether social media could be used for opinion and tracking polls in politics. Could political and campaign staff at the national level produce their own opinion polls on those issues that don’t justify the expenditure but surely haunt their sleep because they can’t commission a poll?

My conclusion? No, but it can give political operatives some early warning signals as to what issues are on a slow boil.

All Hail: The Glorious and Fundamental Principle of ‘Equal Probability of Selection’

The principle of equal probability is the fundamental core of polling. It states that every member of a population has an equal – or in some instances a known – probability of being selected in a sample,allowing pollsters to limit the number of calls they have to make; typically, 1,000 individuals is enough. Because everyone has an equal opportunity to be called, the opinions of these individuals are representative of the general population.

This is important. It is the first fundamental reason why social media cannot currently be used to replace polling in politics. This principle cannot be applied to social media monitoring today.

The Rules of Engagement: Comprehensive Sampling Frame

The comprehensive sample frame determines how polling agencies identify their random sample, ensure its randomness, and ensure its accuracy. Since 1986, the telephone has been the preferred method of polling. It has been the preferred method because upwards of 95% of US and Canadian homes, according to the most recent American and Canadian census, have a landline-based telephone, although that is beginning to change in significant ways.

When pollsters call this randomly selected list of individuals, they ask to speak to the person in the household that is 18 years of age or older who had their birthday most recently. This ensures that the individuals polled will be random, protecting the fundamental principle of equal probability of selection.

After the data has been collected and data processed, each respondent is assigned a weighted value so that the total weighted sample represents the demographic characteristics of the latest US or Canadian census. Age, gender, race, educational attainment, and region are weighted accordingly, and the result is a representation of opinions held by all Americans or Canadians.

It’s Cumulative but Not Representative

Data recovered from social media is cumulative in nature. It begins by pulling in large volume on specific keywords chosen by the analyst over a set date range. The data is then collected to show how many conversations are taking place on social media channels related to those keywords. Currently there is no way to impose the scientific principles discussed above.

In its current incarnation, social media monitoring does not allow for the selection of random individuals using the probability of equal selection principle.

  • While upwards of 95% of Americans and Canadians can be reached by telephone, the percentage of individuals with access to the Internet in their homes in 60% in the United States and 79% in Canada. As a frame of reference, social media has not reached the level of universality achieved by the telephone.
  • Unless someone volunteers to put their demographic data in their social profiles, it is not possible to know all of the important demographic information that is needed to properly weight the results. Location data, age, gender, race, and educational attainment are not always listed, and many people use profile images that are not of themselves.

Having no way to ensure that the information gathered via social media monitoring can uphold the rigorous scientific standards of traditional polling methods there is no way that the data can be made representative of anything, let alone the opinions of a nation.

The Political Variables

In the political arena, there is further reason why social media cannot take the place of traditional polling.

The majority of political opinions expressed on social media have a tendency to adhere to the meta-narratives of both political campaigns and the mainstream media. People may be inclined to include their personal opinions when retweeting a news article, but there is substantial room for a type of response bias, a phenomenon in which people do not share their own personal opinions because they may be socially unacceptable. Since social media is a public forum, the inhibition to state one’s true beliefs can be a significant factor in what they write.

Social media monitoring acts as a window into these conversations, but it is not possible to ask questions for deeper analysis on these topics or even on topics unrelated to those running in the established meta-narrative.

Finally, because the reliability of demographic data is subject to what users of social media voluntarily provide, it is impossible to account for regional and local issues that shape races district-to-district, riding-to-riding. It is difficult to drill down to understand how government policies are impacting local economies, or account for the popularity of an entrenched incumbent.

What Is It Good For?

The strengths of social media data in the political arena lie elsewhere and I’ll demonstrate that Friday using the last Canadian federal election, held in the spring of 2011, as my case study.

Identifying Voters and Moving Them Through Your Social Media Funnel

This blog was originally authored by me and published on the Radian6 website on June 8, 2012. I’m posting it here for posterity.

Political parties win and lose based on their voter ID lists. These lists are normally compiled by mixing official membership lists, intel gathered by field operatives, and door-to-door canvassing.

Social media has provided political parties with a very powerful tool for identifying supporters and moving them from random re-tweeters on social media to registered party members or voters.

Social is More than Communications

Communications is the obvious fit for social media in the political operative’s toolbox. It provides an opportunity to speak directly to the electorate without having their message go through the media filter. It’s an especially useful tool for rallying a political party’s base, but it can also deliver a message to non-partisans through re-tweets and shared posts.

Social media monitoring platforms allow political parties to track how far their message has traveled across the social web. The Radian6 engagement console shows each individual that has retweeted or shared content, allowing political operatives to cross-reference the users’ social profiles with their existing voter ID lists. This task is made easier if those voter ID lists are contained within a CRM system.

Connect the Pieces

There are many critics who argue that retweets and Facebook shares do not convert to votes received on election-day. They argue that it is one thing to simply click the mouse to share information on social media and quite another to stand in line at a polling station to cast a ballot.

That is quite true. Yet I would argue that an important piece of the puzzle is missing: for the social voter ID funnel to work, it cannot be seen as an end in and of itself. The social funnel has to be seen as a gateway to the traditional voter ID and outreach systems political parties already have in place.

Making the Connection

To accomplish this task, political parties need to devote staff whose sole purpose is to create relationships with people who have responded to their content by sharing or commenting on it. This is the process of community building that has been proven successful time and again in the private sector.

Any political operative will tell you that when canvassing a neighborhood for support, a lot of the work of identifying whether or not someone is a likely supporter is done during a quick huddle at the end of each driveway. What was the tone of the conversation? Was the resident engaged, and if so, what kinds of issues were important to them?

Social media outreach provides a greater amount of certitude while centralizing the social media task at party headquarters. As likely supporters are engaged by a political community team, it will be possible to identify issues that spark engagement and record that information using post tags in the engagement console.

Perhaps a social media user engages frequently around poverty issues. That information can be recorded on their profiles and used later by the traditional party apparatus for a membership drive targeting people who relate to this specific issue. The goal at this stage is to move that person from being an unregistered community member to a registered member of the party.

Complete the Transition

Once that individual conversion has been made, the interaction on social and through other channels doesn’t stop. An important transition has occurred by cultivating that relationship from unknown and unregistered voter to party member. Now he or she can be reached by the traditional party machine via newsletters, phone banks and local neighborhood canvassers. When it is time to get out the vote (GOTV), these social media advocates will likely be more motivated to go to the polls. Political parties can also reach them directly to ensure they have voted, and if not, encourage them to do so.

While the social media world has reduced the hectic 24-hour news cycle to a dizzying 140-character cycle for political communications, it hasn’t done the same for voter ID, member registration, and GOTV. These still require relationship management and time to cultivate connections. Social media monitoring platforms facilitate a wider reach allowing political parties to find supporters where they live online. The social voter ID funnel can not replace traditional, on the ground voter ID practices, but it will help grow voter ID lists.

Social Media Hashtags Become a Political Weapon of Choice

This blog was originally authored by me and published on the Radian6 website on May 22, 2012. I’m posting it here for posterity.

Twitter hashtags have become the political operative’s weapon of choice at this early stage of the US Presidential election cycle.

Twitter is already used by politicians and partisans largely as a means of sniping at one another, but lately there has been a shift in the way politicians and political operatives are using the social media platform.

The trend now involves the use of increasingly creative hashtags from both the Democrats and the Republicans taking direct aim at each other’s positions on policy.

#DontDoubleMyRate vs. #NotFunny

The political hashtags that have been coming from the Democrats and Republicans reduce complex issues into pithy slogans that will resonate with American voters. The prize? Having that haghtag enter the mainstream political conversation by being picked up on by major media outlets.

Some recent examples of this phenomenon include the Obama campaign’s #DontDoubleMyRate hashtag and the Romney campaign’s #NotFunny hashtag.

#DontDoubleMyRate is the hashtag being used by the President and the Democratic members of Congress to put pressure on their Republican counterparts and oppose the doubling of interest rates on student loans after July 1. In a speech to the University of California, Obama encouraged his audience to use the hashtag to spread the Democratic message.

After President Obama’s recent appearances on the Jimmy Fallon Show and at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, the Romney campaign started its own hashtag, #NotFunny. The campaign suggested that the President was spending too much time cracking jokes and not enough time on economic issues.

Each of these examples became trending topics on Twitter and were picked up by the mainstream media. Let’s take a look at how political communication shops can monitor hashtags and leverage this data to extend their life.

Monitoring Your Hashtags

(Before we look at monitoring hashtags, it’s worth noting that the data returned may appear to favor the President’s hashtag. The point is not to show that the President’s hashtag has more mentions then the Republican National Committee’s. Rather, it is to demonstrate that in both cases, social media monitoring can be used to measure the success of a hashtag campaign as compared to previous campaigns.)


When President Obama urged students to take to Twitter to voice their opposition to a hike in interest fees on student loans at the University of California, they followed the Commander-in-Chief’s instructions.

Based on the trend graph you can see that the initial #DontDoubleMyRate campaign took off. Within minutes of the President’s comments, his official Twitter account sent the word, out as did the official White House and Democratic Party Twitter accounts.

This trend graph is instructive because it demonstrates how hashtags can have new life breathed into them. After the initial spike (17,938 mentions), the #DontDoubleMyRate hashtag started to lose its vigor. On May 8th, there was another smaller spike when the president combined the hashtag (featured above) with a call to action.


The #NotFunny campaign was started by the Republican National Committee in response to appearances made by President Obama on the Jimmy Fallon Show and the White House Correspondent’s Dinner. The goal of the campaign was to communicate that the President was out of touch with what matters to the electorate.

The trend graph shows that the #NotFunny hashtag took off on social media as well. It generated enough tweets to trend in the United States and made it into the mainstream media. Despite the smaller numbers, the hashtag was still a success.  Once the initial peak was over (1, 116 mentions) the hashtag mentions fell off sharply. The smaller peaks around May 11 were the result of an advocacy organization attempting to co-opt the hashtag for their own purposes.

It’s also worth noting that the #NotFunny hashtag is somewhat more generic then the #DontDoubleMyRate hashtag. From the perspective of political messaging the #NotFunny hashtag was a rhetorical spear that hit it’s mark among partisans and the mainstream media covering politics. The initial spike was heavily focused on the Republican message track but after that the hashtag becomes muddled with other unrelated conversations from people using the hashtag for their own non-political purposes. When landing on a hashtag it’s best to try to land on something more specific.

Content Marketing and Political Campaigns

Being able to monitor the progress of a hashtag campaign allows communication shops to plan for content. Yes, a creative hashtag that makes it into the mainstream media is a great return on investment for a news cycle. What would happen if political parties began to extend the life of the hashtag campaign? What would this look like?

The approach is quite simple. Once a message track has been settled on, and before the initial tweet goes out, some time should be spent on producing online content – videos, blogs, infographics, etc. – to be launched when the online mentions start to sag. Maybe the mainstream media has picked up on the hashtag, reported it, and moved on, but that’s the traditional news cycle not the social news cycle.

As long as new and relevant information is being produced and being shared, there is political hay to be made.

4 Clever Ways the Republicans and Democrats Use Social Media to Raise Money and Identify their Vote

This blog was originally authored by me and published on the Radian6 website on July 11, 2012. I am posting it here for posterity.

In the United States the national Republican and Democratic parties are doing an incredibly good job at harnessing social media for fundraising and voter I.D.

Here are four things they do really well that can be adopted (and modified) for state and local political parties.

Leverage Social Participation & Offer Rewards

The Obama campaign has organized a couple of fundraisers that offer supporters the chance to attend A-list Hollywood events with the President. The donation required to enter the raffle is low – 3 dollars – and has been overwhelmingly successful generating 9 million dollars from the lottery alone for an event at George Clooney’s. The success of the event has inspired the Romney campaign to do a similar event, and will likely become a mainstay of presidential fundraising going forward.

State and local political parties may not be able to attract the star power that POTUS and Clooney can muster but the principle can still be applied. Local political volunteers would appreciate the opportunity to have a sit down with political players in their area. It will provide an incentive to give and an opportunity for that volunteer to be recognized. You can bet they’ll leave that event ready to work even harder in the future.

Issue Based Donations – The ‘Money Bomb’

The ‘Money Bomb’ is a time-honored tactic that has been given new life in the social media era. Timing is essential when a political issue surfaces that resonates with your base. Being able to harness that passion and turn it into donations and registrations at its height is essential to success. Prior to the advent of social media issue-based fundraising was slower as it took time to fire up phone banks and send mail-outs. The social media era cuts down the time significantly and the organic nature of sharing allows you to reach people that aren’t in your database as well.

Own the Meme

Political memes have become a staple of this presidential election cycle. Political humor is a sacred aspect of Western democracy and American political humorists have some of the sharpest wit around. One meme that proved to be fundraising dynamite for Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, was the SNL inspired “sweatervest meme”. Santorum had been frequently pictured wearing sweatervests, and SNL comedian Andy Samberg picked up on that fact to poke fun at the presidential hopeful. Santorum’s campaign saw the humor in it and turned it into a fundraising machine bringing in $300,000 for his campaign.

Lift the Hood

In politics the term “inside baseball” is often used to describe the minutiae of day-to-day political life. It’s the kind of stuff that politicians and political operatives live and die by in their bubble but assume (correctly for the most part) that most living in the world outside politics would have little use for.

During the 2008 presidential election cycle the Obama team found out that sharing this inside information was an effective tool for grass-roots organization and fundraising. ‘Lifting the hood’ as Obama campaign manager David Plouffe described in The Audacity to Win allowed “our supporters to understand how we saw the race and to know why their money and time were so important.”

Scale and Deploy

As I said at the outset these are examples from the big leagues of national politics but I believe they can be scaled to meet the needs of state and local political machines as well. These examples will attract attention as your supporters participate and share this content with their networks. This participation, from simple shares to active donations, allows parties to identify their vote and welcome people into their sphere of influence.

Presidential Campaign Social Media Check Up. Part 3 of 3: The Republican and Democratic Conventions

This blog was originally authored by me and published on the Radian6 website on July 6, 2012. I am posting it here for posterity.

The presidential primary season has come to an end and the summer campaigns are gearing up. Last Wednesday and this past Tuesday I looked at the social media buzz around the two presidential candidates: Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.

Today, I take a look at the buzz being generated as Republicans and Democrats look forward to their respective nominating conventions.

GOP chatter slightly edges out DNC chatter

Both the GOP and DNC national conventions are a couple of months away but people are chatting about them now. Looking back over the last 30 days there have been 26,500 mentions with both the GOP and the DNC conventions sharing a roughly even share of the conversation.

The trend line shows that for most of the last 30 days conversations related to the GOP national convention have lead social mentions.

The spike in GOP conversations on June 19 was fueled by reports that the University of Tampa was requiring all freshmen to take “RNC 101”, an introductory course designed to teach students the history of political conventions and keep them updated on the daily happenings at the event. The July 2 spike was the result of an announcement that Kid Rock will be performing at the convention.

By far the largest spike in the conversation occurred on June 26 as a number of Democratic politicians let it be known that they would not be attending the DNC convention in Charlotte, NC.

GOP social chatter trends older than DNC

Digging into the conversations a bit further with Radian6 Insights reveals that of those who listed their age in their social profiles the conversations trended slightly older for those discussing the GOP convention and younger for the DNC convention.

When running these Insights the 25-34 age demographic, in almost every case, is the dominant age bracket. This makes sense as the 25-34 age demographic is the “social media generation”. Seeing them at the top of both the GOP and DNC age graphs is to be expected. What is less common is to see the 45-54 and 55-64 age demographics be so dominant.

In the GOP graph (red) the 54-64 age group makes up the third-largest demographic chatting about the convention on social media. The 45-54 age group is right behind them in fourth place. In the DNC graph (blue) the 45-54 age group makes up the third largest demographic with the 55-64 age group fifth. In both cases the 65+ age group are active in the social conversation. This age group rarely shows up when running these insights.

A long, engaging summer

With two months to go until the GOP and DNC national conventions the social chatter will only increase as the summer progresses. Will you be attending either of the conventions?

Presidential Campaign Social Media Checkup. Part 2 of 3: Barack Obama

This blog was originally published on the Radian6 website on July 3, 2012. I’m posting it here for posterity.

The presidential primary season is over, Mitt Romney is the “unofficial” GOP nominee, and the summer campaign season with the inevitable fried-food gaffes is set to begin.

What kind of buzz are the two candidates generating at this period of transition? Wednesday I looked at Mitt Romney; today I take a look at President Obama.

All the President’s Numbers

Going back 30 days from June 26 Barack Obama has generated 9.5 million social media mentions.  This obviously dwarfs the 3.5 million mentions generated by the Romney campaign. It is important to note that, as President, Obama’s every word and move is news, and therefore captures more attention than any other politician in the United States. The line between Obama “governing” and Obama “campaigning” is necessarily blurred.

The White House is the largest political podium in the United States, and indeed, the world. These numbers provide insight into how large a podium the individual working from the Oval Office has on social media.

Does Social Media Lean to the Left?

After publishing my blog Wednesday I had an interesting conversation with a colleague as to whether or not social media defaults to the left of the political spectrum. Citing the fact that the largest spike in conversation for the Romney campaign resulted from the “Amercia” gaffe, as well as the overwhelmingly negative sentiment graph, the evidence seemed to support that hypothesis.

However, automated sentiment analysis of the social media mentions related to Barack Obama shows the same negative trend.

If both Obama and Romney mentions trend negative what feeds the impression that social media trends to the left (or right) of the political spectrum? I would suggest that those impressions are gleaned from personal bias and the online communities people associate with.

The evidence gleaned from automated sentiment doesn’t seem to support the suggestion that social media carries an inherent political bias. What it says about the general impression people on social media have of politicians in general may be another story.

Presidential Campaign Social Media Checkup. Part 1 of 3: Mitt Romney

This blog was originally authored by me and published on the Radian6 website on June 27, 2012. I’m posting it here for posterity.

The presidential primary season came to a close Tuesday evening as voters in Utah cast their ballots in the final GOP primary. As we head into summer, the Democratic and Republican parties will begin their unofficial campaigns. Conversations will shift to who Romney will pick to be his vice presidential nominee, each party’s respective nominating conventions, and which candidate is showing momentum.

Given that we’ve come to a milestone in this year’s presidential campaign, I thought I would devote my two blogs this week to looking at the volume of social media buzz each candidate has generated to date. First up: Mitt Romney.

The Social Media Primaries

Mitt Romney has had a long road to travel to emerge as the Republican nominee. Early in the race, Romney was the hands-down favorite, but as more candidates put their names forward, social media users took their time conversing about each candidate in turn. At times, other candidates gained a larger share of the conversation than Romney as people debated the merits and demerits of each candidate.

In the end, there can only be one and Mitt Romney has emerged as the last Republican candidate standing.

Mitt Romney’s Social Buzz

Going back 30 days from Tuesday, June 26, Mitt Romney has received a little more then 3.5 million mentions, the most of which occurred earlier this month during the now infamous iPad app spelling error.

The Romney campaign has also generated a lot of social mentions for more substantive matters. On June 14, Mitt Romney and President Obama gave major policy speeches on the same day and gave social media users their first opportunity to compare the two men one-on-one.

Conversations and rumors concerning whom Romney will choose to be his vice presidential nominee also caused spikes in social mentions of the Republican nominee.

Social Media Doesn’t Love Easily

Running automated sentiment reveals that the social media world isn’t exactly enamored with Mitt Romney to date. The majority of mentions with identifiable trigger words are overwhelmingly negative.

The Romney campaign shouldn’t worry that they are all alone in this regard, as President Obama suffers the same issue. Check back on Friday when I take a look at the President’s social mentions going into the summer campaign months.

Want to get a head start on the conversations related to GOP vice presidential candidates? Check out Who’ll Be Romney’s Running Mate?