Twitter as been a useful tool for politicians to share their vision and connect with a wider range of their voters, and with the UK General Election 2015 nearby, the candidates' twitter accounts have been more active than ever. But which ones manage to get their messages across their followers? Which messages and candidates have more impact?
Tweetometer, the latest project we've been working on for Mirror, tracks and compares the performance of general election's candidates and tweets, so that we can see Twitter activity not just as loose information, but perceive it as meaningful data that reflects the popularity of the candidates and messages.
WHAT MAKES A TWEET EFFECTIVE?
The effectiveness of a message is relative. If you tell a story to 20 friends and only 8 go tell other people, maybe it didn't reach them quite as you wanted it. Now, if I tell a story to 5 friends and they all go tell someone else, boy, it must be a really good story.
This lets us with an important question “What makes a Tweet effective?”.
If we want to to compare which tweets and candidates are having more impact, we need to have a system to quantify their performance. In order to know the impact of a message relatively to its audience, Tweetometer calculates the tweet’s performance with a simple, but effective, division of the nº of shares by the nº of followers - the tweet’s score.
So every time we fetch a tweet, we check its nº of shares and the candidate's nº of followers, for the almost 2300 candidates. This is done every hour, where Tweetometer checks for new tweets and updates the scores of the previous ones. The candidate's score is the average of all his best performing Tweets through the days.
Now that we have the tools to compare Tweets and candidates, we can start to explore the basic tools in Tweetometer.
On the landing page, we can check the Best performing Tweet of the day and we can start exploring by checking other tops and rankings that will give us an idea of what is happening in the Twitter universe for this General Election.
We can check the top 3 best performing Tweets of the day and the best performing Tweets overall.
Check how all the Candidates are doing, in the Ranking of Candidates page.
And if you click on the Candidates' names you can check their personal page with all his information plus their best performing Tweets overall.
By now you probably noticed that there are a Scoreboard, Your Candidates and a button in the Candidate’s page saying Add to my portfolio. That leads us to two of the most interesting features in Tweetometer:
KEEP TRACK OF YOUR CANDIDATES
Tweetometer allows you to create your own 'portfolio' of 5 candidates to track. By choosing your candidates on the Your Candidates page, you'll be able to see a graph with their daily performance. Here you can also compare them against the best tweet of the day and the average of all candidates.
You can find your candidates by searching by name or constituency in the selection box on Your Candidates page or simply by clicking on Add to my portfolio on their personal page.
MAKE IT A GAME
To make it more appealing and possible to connect with other people interested in UK's General Election, Mirror made Tweetometer a game. When you choose your candidates to keep track, Tweetometer gives you a score based on your candidate’s averages. Your score is displayed along with other Tweetometer users in the Scoreboard, and the user with the best score by the close of the election poll will win £1,000 (!).
So, you can choose to track the candidates you believe will perform better and have a chance to win £1,000, or you can just track the candidates you like to see their performance over time.
SO, DOES TWITTER HAVE ANY IMPACT IN THE ELECTION'S OUTCOME?
We don't doubt that Twitter as some impact in the candidate's popularity, but we know that Twitter users are only a small part of the voters and that there are many other factors involved. This makes Tweetometer only a tool for analyzing this UK's General Election, and not a poll.
At the moment, if we take a look at the Candidates Ranking we can see that the party with most candidates in the top 50 is UKIP, followed by SNP. With a lot fewer candidates in the top 50 are UKIP and SNP, Playd Cymru, Greens and TUSC, and (strangely) only then the Conservative Party. (The Conservative Party had the highest number of seats in the last election, and has only 2 candidates in the top 50.)
Most of all, we are curious to know the outcome of this General Election 2015, that will be held next Thursday, May 7th, and see if the results will somehow reflect the candidates' popularity in the Twitter universe.