Breaking the Barrier

Interactive Election Campaign
Communication on Twitter
during the German General Election 2009




P...
Twitter and Politics
The 2009 German General Election started
with the impression of Obama’s online
campaign fresh in mind...
Twitter Overview
»Micro-publishing« — publish short messages
Re-Tweet — quote message including attribution
Directed (@-)m...
Data Collection
Bootstrap: List of political twitter users
(Assembled from several websites compiling lists of politicians...
Dataset
Three months prior to General Election
A sample of Germany’s politically active
twitter users — 33 048 individuals...
Message Volume
                      Election Day




     Twitter Outage




                                     6
Political Message Volume
                              Election Day



                       TV debate


      Poster rem...
“We are strong enough
                                            for security and
                                       ...
Defining Links

Followers are a questionable indicator of
influence (Cha et al: “The Million Follower Fallacy”)
Intentional,...
Network Structure
            Distribution of Incoming Links (cumulative)
                    Degree Distribution         ...
The Visible Core
          ∑ interactive messages per user / ranked
30000

                                    @-Messages ...
«The Rich get Richer»

Follower gain over sample timespan
correlates with intensity of interaction
(Spearman’s Rho rs = .5...
Content Analysis

Hand-coded a sample from each of the 50
most prominent users
Prominence: Volume of meaningful
communicat...
Top 50 users
                                      6
                                6
The Pirate Party
The Green Party
  ...
Content Typology
Mindcasting, Lifecasting, Workcasting




    personal   intellectual   work-related   automatic

       ...
Content Typology
400



300



200



100



 0
      political               national politics   regional politics
      ...
Results
Reach on twitter is very dependent on a small
group of users (new gatekeepers)
Preferential attachement makes entr...
Results II
Dedicated “political” communities do not
play a significant role.
Dedicated “political” users do (mostly) not
pl...
Topical Interaction




                      19
Politics as One Among Many Topics




     Translated:
     “I’ll be glad once the election campaigns
     are over and we...
Thank you

            21
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Breaking the Barrier: Interactive Election Campaign Communication

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Breaking the Barrier: Interactive Election Campaign Communication

  1. 1. Breaking the Barrier Interactive Election Campaign Communication on Twitter during the German General Election 2009 Pascal Jürgens Andreas Jungherr U of Mainz, Germany U of Bamberg, Germany pascal.juergens@gmail.com andreas.jungherr@gmail.com
  2. 2. Twitter and Politics The 2009 German General Election started with the impression of Obama’s online campaign fresh in mind Due to several high-profile incidents, German media and politics focussed on Twitter at least as much as on other social networks 2
  3. 3. Twitter Overview »Micro-publishing« — publish short messages Re-Tweet — quote message including attribution Directed (@-)message — explicitly sent to a recipient Topic tags (#) — defines the topic of the message High degree of mobile usage (~15% in our dataset) 3
  4. 4. Data Collection Bootstrap: List of political twitter users (Assembled from several websites compiling lists of politicians on twitter) Growth: perpetual search for #tags (Add new users to sample) Capture: Collect all new tweets (Also crawling archives for coverage over entire time range) Graphs: Nightly snapshot of friend/followers 4
  5. 5. Dataset Three months prior to General Election A sample of Germany’s politically active twitter users — 33 048 individuals A complete archive of their communication (public tweets) — 10 109 894 messages A temporal map of their connections 5
  6. 6. Message Volume Election Day Twitter Outage 6
  7. 7. Political Message Volume Election Day TV debate Poster remixes 7
  8. 8. “We are strong enough for security and freedom” “We know: War means (is) peace” www.flickr.com/photos/41501796@N06/3823362599/ 8
  9. 9. Defining Links Followers are a questionable indicator of influence (Cha et al: “The Million Follower Fallacy”) Intentional, meaningful interaction as a link: @-messages and quotes (re-tweets) 9
  10. 10. Network Structure Distribution of Incoming Links (cumulative) Degree Distribution Degree Distribution 1e+00 little connected 1.0 users make up the majority 1e-01 0.8 cumulative frequency 0.6 1e-02 0.4 highly connected 1e-03 users are infrequent 0.2 1e-04 0.0 1 10 100 1000 10000 0 2000 4000 6000 8000 in-degree in-degree (Clustering Coefficient C = .045 Random Erdös-Rényi Graph C = .001) 10
  11. 11. The Visible Core ∑ interactive messages per user / ranked 30000 @-Messages Retweets 22500 15000 7500 0 11
  12. 12. «The Rich get Richer» Follower gain over sample timespan correlates with intensity of interaction (Spearman’s Rho rs = .54, two-tailed p ≃ 0) Corresponds to “preferential attachement” theory on network growth New participants attach (follow) to most visible nodes 12
  13. 13. Content Analysis Hand-coded a sample from each of the 50 most prominent users Prominence: Volume of meaningful communication (direct messages + re-tweets) Coding for content topic, references, links 13
  14. 14. Top 50 users 6 6 The Pirate Party The Green Party 3 Jörg Tauss 35 Politicians / Parties Media Media-like Blogs Personal Accounts 14
  15. 15. Content Typology Mindcasting, Lifecasting, Workcasting personal intellectual work-related automatic 15
  16. 16. Content Typology 400 300 200 100 0 political national politics regional politics link to party website re-tweet directed message 16
  17. 17. Results Reach on twitter is very dependent on a small group of users (new gatekeepers) Preferential attachement makes entry into twitter ecosystem difficult Politicians are only successful if they attach to existing topics/trends/conventions? (e.g. Jörg Tauss, Piratenpartei) 17
  18. 18. Results II Dedicated “political” communities do not play a significant role. Dedicated “political” users do (mostly) not play a significant role. Political communication happens ad-hoc in issue-driven topics among non-political tweets and topics. 18
  19. 19. Topical Interaction 19
  20. 20. Politics as One Among Many Topics Translated: “I’ll be glad once the election campaigns are over and we can all like each other again. Especially once the dull discussions come to an end.” 20
  21. 21. Thank you 21

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