This is the first of a series of posts I’ll be writing about politics and government on Twitter which will be aided/driven by my interest in social networking illustrations. To kick things off I’ve decided to do some basic analysis of @LabourList, the Twitter account of labourlist.org, the Labour Party’s ‘biggest independent grassroots e-network’, which is run by Alex Smith, who is fast becoming the unofficial spokesperson on the Labour Party’s digital work.
So I guess you’re wondering why I’ve put up this picture of a fireworks display. It is in fact a map displaying all the Twitter followers of @LabourList and the Twitter users who most mention ‘@LabourList’ in their tweets. The Twitter account of @LabourList is represented by, unsurprisingly, the LabourList logo (the red and white cross thing), while its most influential followers who most mention ‘@LabourList’ on their tweets are represented by the big blue blobs (nodes). These nodes represent the Twitter accounts of (from left to right) @BevaniteEllie @coopparty @psbook @Emma_Hoddinott and the smaller blue nodes at the end of the thin blue lines represent their followers.
If someone follows more than one of @BevaniteEllie @coopparty @psbook @Emma_Hoddinott they will have more than one line linking to their node. There are of course also red lines but these only link to followers of @LabourList …..confused?
Let me try and explain it like this: my Twitter account is @joshfeldberg and as it happens I follow @LabourList, @coopparty and @BevaniteEllie. This means I am a small node somewhere on the illustration with three lines linking to me – one red (because I follow @LabourList) and two light green – one will be linking to a big blue node representing @coopparty and the other linking to @BevaniteEllie. Hence on the original picture I would be represented like the node below:
(Zoomed in version of fig 1)
Or simplified even more…
Still with me?? … So the question now is really whether any of this is useful. Well, the truth is that the image itself isn’t useful but the data behind what created might be, although probably not.
If Alex Smith, the Editor of LabourList, wanted to increase the readership of labourlist.org he could use this diagram, or rather the data used to create it, to see the person who he should most reach out to and work with to help him acquire new followers of @LabourList and hence (the theory goes) read labourlist.org. If were to do this he would see that @BevaniteEllie is the person who he should work with. Not simply because @BevaniteEllie has over a thousand followers who do not follow @LabourList (more than anyone else who regularly mentions @LabourList in their tweets) but also because, according to http://Twitter.grader.com/, she has a higher level of ‘Twitter influencer’ than anyone else who regularly mentions @LabourList in their tweets.
All this analysis is of course very simplistic but it does provide a starting point in understanding the relationships between @LabourList’s most valuable followers and if Twitter were a reflection of the real world Alex Smith would now be well equipped to increase his influence as a Labour Party activist. However, saying all this, the value of Twitter as a whole is at best debatable, so any in depth of analysis of influencers and followers might be totally pointless! Nevertheless, being the geek that I am I find it all interesting and it gives me an excuse to map out some funky looking diagrams.