UK General Election 2015 on Twitter - The Numbers

Twitter has been a useful tool for politicians to share their vision and connect with a wider range of their voters. In this year's UK General Election, candidate's Twitter accounts were exploding with activity.

With Tweetometer - the latest project we've been working on for Mirror - we ranked the election's candidates popularity on Twitter based on a Score equal to:

                              Nº of Shares per Tweet
                           Candidate's Nº of followers 

This is actually the premise of Tweetometer - it tracked this election's Candidates performance and found the best performing Tweets, by dividing the nº of shares of each Tweet by the nº of followers of the respective Candidate. This translated into a Score, that hopefully had some relevance in measuring the potential of each Party to win the votes. Or hadn't?

On this blog post, we're going to share some of the numbers that we got through Tweetometer. But first, let's remember this year's vote share results, with each parties’ performance in the 2010 General Election.

Who Tweeted the most?

On this election, there was a total of 2243 Candidates with a Twitter account. We filtered all the Candidates with less than 400 followers so that Score results were not skewed. Ending up with a total of 1490 Candidates' Twitter accounts that were analyzed on an hourly basis.

From those, a total of 326997 tweets were analyzed from 1 of April until the opening of the polls - an average of 219,46 tweets per day.

Most active Parties

Not surprisingly, the Labour and the Conservative parties tweeted more. And I say that because they're also the parties with most candidates on Twitter. Meaning that if we normalize these numbers taking into account the number of candidates, the tweeting frequency should be more or less the same for those parties, right?

Interestingly, the candidates from the Labour and Conservative Parties were indeed more active on Twitter than the rest. Followed by the Green, Liberal Democrat and UKIP parties.

Now the question that we leave here is: Does the tweeting frequency have any impact on their popularity?

Most active Candidates

If there's one thing that we can notice on this Top 20, is the diversity of parties present - we count 11 different parties from these 20 candidates. With the two most active candidates having an average of 71 and 61 tweets per day - that's a lot of tweeting!

Who had the most followers?

The most followed Parties

With the most followed candidates being:

The most followed Candidates

  • (1st) Boris Johnson, Conservative - 1198430 followers
  • (2nd) David Cameron, Conservative - 968390 followers
  • (3rd) Ed Miliband, Labour - 425687 followers
  • (4th) George Galloway, Respect - 239528 followers
  • (5th) Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat - 226414 followers
  • (6th) George Aylett, Labour - 225675 followers
  • (7th) Nigel Farage, UKIP - 209716 followers
  • (8th) Ed Balls, Labour - 166834 followers
  • (9th) Tom Watson, Labour - 165639 followers
  • (10th) Alex Salmond, SNP - 160429 followers
  • (11th) Caroline Lucas, Green - 127052 followers
  • (12th) George Osborne, Conservative - 117982 followers
  • (13th) Chuka Umunna, Labour - 101417 followers
  • (14th) Grant Shapps, Conservative - 84699 followers
  • (15th) Diane Abbott, Labour - 80732 followers
  • (16th) Natalie Bennett, Green - 80130 followers
  • (17th) Harriet Harman, Labour - 78479 followers
  • (18th) Andy Burnham, Labour - 67014 followers
  • (19th) Jeremy Hunt, Conservative - 65882 followers
  • (20th) Vince Cable, Liberal Democrat - 62808 followers

We can notice some similar results here - the Labour and Conservative have by far the biggest number of followers, followed by the Liberal Democrat, UKIP and Green. The parties who had the most number of followers were also the ones who tweeted the most, and the ones with the best results on the polls. On the Top 20 of the most followed candidates, we count 7 different parties.

Who were the most popular?

Like we explained in the beginning of the post, Tweetometer had its own way of measuring popularity - through a Score that's equal to the number of retweets divided by the number of followers of the corresponding candidate. We're curious to see if previous numbers we presented have any connection with their popularity:
Does tweeting more make the candidates and parties more popular on Twitter? How does the number of followers correlate with the each one's popularity? Can we spot any correlation with the poll results?

The most popular Candidates

Tweeting more doesn't translate into having a better score. Actually, none of the Top 20 most active candidates appear on the Score's Top 10, with the exception of one - Clive Morrison from UKIP. Anyone who visited Tweetometer during the elections surely noticed that his tweets frequently made an appearance on the Top 3 of the day.

Also, the two biggest parties - Labour and Conservative - almost don't make it to this Top 20.
But it's interesting to see the top spots occupied by some candidates from smaller parties as UKIP, NHA, and Plaid.

The most popular Parties

The first three spots are occupied by the NHA, DUP, and the People Before Profit parties. (The later had only 13 candidates present on Twitter, with an average of 51,36 tweets per day, and a total of 27297, very loyal, followers. The DUP had 5 candidates, and the People Before Profit 3.)

They were by far, neither more active, neither the most followed parties nor shared a substantial number of votes on the polls. But their Score is several times bigger than the bigger parties, as the Conservative and the Labour (who appear only at 19º and 20º).
Does this mean that the smaller parties have in general a more loyal set of followers? Or are they simply more skillful in terms of using social media to capture attention?

We can also look at this data from the perspective of the Vote Share change between 2010 and 2015:
On Tweetometer, the UKIP, SNP and Green parties had a considerable better score than Conservative and Labour. And in terms of vote results, from 2010 to 2015 they also had the biggest Vote Share change - UKIP +9.5%, SNP +3.1% and Green +2.8%.
All of this gives strength to the idea that some people advocate - the population is becoming more interested in the smaller parties.

But the truth is that we can also only be surer of our conclusions with more data. The more the merrier. And surely we will be here to analyze more Twitter data on the next UK elections.

It's just a pity that some candidates have given up on Twitter, by decreasing their activity, or with some of them actually being deleted. For example, immediately on the day after the elections, 19 Twitter accounts were closed:

  • Michelle Tanfield, Conservative, @michtanfield
  • Tom Greatrex, Labour, @tomgreatrexmp
  • Martyn Day, SNP, @MartynDay4MP
  • Tom Harris, Labour, @TomHarris4MP
  • Katy Clark, Labour, @KatyClarkMP
  • Chris Philp, Conservative, @chrisphilp4mp
  • Suzie Ferguson, Independent, @SuzieFergusonMP
  • Shiraz Peer, Respect, @shiraz_peer
  • David Montgomery, Conservative, @drdavidmonty
  • Alasdair Morrison, Labour, @Alasdair4MP
  • Michael McCann, Labour, @MichaelMcCannMP
  • angela mcmanus, UKIP, @angela_mcmanus
  • Andy Sawford, Labour, @AndySawfordMP
  • Ian Davidson, Labour, @IanDavidson4MP
  • Ann McKechin, Labour, @AnnMcKechinMP
  • Richard Baker, Labour, @VoteBaker2015

Finally, I'll leave you with the most popular Tweets captured by Tweetometer:

The most popular Tweets






Subscribe to our newsletter

Would you like to receive more posts of this kind in your Inbox?