Tracking and analysing party political activity on Twitter

As the major political parties look to digital technology as a key part of their election campaigns, an innovative new web intelligence tool – tweetlection.co.uk – has been developed by digital specialists Sense Internet. Tweetlection tracks comments about the parties on the social networking site Twitter, and gives a picture of which keywords are being used by tweeters at any given time.

“While all parties engage in tweeting, until now it has been hard to get a real-time picture of what is being said on key issues, and by whom,” says Sense MD Aidan Cook. “Previously it was difficult to get an accurate view of just how much excitement or interest a specific event or issue was generating.

“Now, with www.tweetlection.co.uk, users can see, at a glance, the frequency of tweets over time for each party and the common themes in those tweets. This might help the political parties modify their existing themes and messages, or create new ones. It will give them a better understanding of the impact that particular policy proposals and Twitter discussions about them may be having on voters.”

The ground-breaking tool works by harvesting all tweets relating to the major UK parties – Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat – and displays them graphically. Users can instantly see spikes of activity on Twitter – from the last seven days and in real time, as news breaks. The graphs also provide a breakdown of the most commonly used words in the tweets that make up the spikes.

Users can drill right down to view the individual tweets that made up the activity spike, and learn exactly what tweeters are saying about the issue under discussion. “This allows the user to get real insight into developing ‘tweetstorms,’ and what the Twitter community is saying,” says Cook.

More importantly, the data can be weighted by audience; the number of followers a tweeter has is factored into tweetlection.co.uk’s display, showing the “reach” that the tweets have had. The frequency of the tweets by a user is also considered, generating another view, this time on the significance of tweets.

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