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Elite tweets: Analysing the twitter communication patterns of Labour Party Peers in the House of Lords. A session at Twitter and Microblogging: Political, Professional and Personal Practices, Lancaster University 10-12 April 2013 #LUTwit
Elite tweets:Analysing the twitter communicationpatterns of Labour Party Peers in the House of Lords Ana Adi (@ana_adi), Kris Erickson, Darren Lilleker (@DrDGL) Media School, Bournemouth University
Strategic Political Communication• Dissemination of political arguments using all appropriate media• Setting the agenda – across media and the public sphere• Gaining influence, within politics and public opinion• Building support networks, joining and reinforcing existing networks
Twitter and political communication• Potential to disseminate messages to a wide audience• Potentiates ‘@’ conversations and themed argumentational ‘#’ linkages• Potential to extend reach within networks and direct contacts with influentials• Potential to build and join personal/partisan support and issue networks
Case Study: Labour Lords• The Labour affiliated peers who constitute the frontbench in the UK upper chamber.• Time-served political experts with partisan and personal political agendas• Serve multiple constituencies• Partisan but independently minded• Digital migrants• Have potential influence on policy and wider agenda
Methodology• Analysis of Tweets by Labour Lords frontbench, a total of 22 peers• Analysis of usage of @ and #, and content• Semantic analysis of #LASPO and #lordsreform• Network analysis of in and out links and agenda setting around # usage.
@, #, hyperlinks and content • @ used in 63.2% of tweets, hashtags in 16.6%, hyperlinks in 14.8% • @ functionality was used 70% in personal/family and unclassified (usually replies) • Political tweets were @ 60% of time, hashtags in 16.1%, hyperlinks 14.9%
Twitter Efficiency Demonstrates a difference in strategies with some receiving large amounts of in-degree ‘@’ and RT traffic. There is little relationship with tweet frequency
In-network Linkages Based purely on Tweets between the group, the blacks are reference points – are RT’ed or messaged. Reds are sent to or contact one another. The ‘out-there’ blues talk to one another almost exclusively The yellows broadcast with no references in or out
Media linkages Mainstream journalists and press contacted more frequently than bloggers. Everyone converges on guardian and telegraph LadyBasildon, LordPhil and Jim Knight all focus on LabourLordsUK. The ‘out there’ group LabourList. All reference media, not transmitting to
The Twittersphere for #LASPO Although a seldom used hashtag, Lord Willy Bach (@FightBach) is prominent as activist
Agenda setting: Willy Bach & #LASPO Bach acts not as creator but a communication hub across #LASPO and #legalaid hashtags
Authority: #LASPOThree poles of influence, one smaller one using the accessible #legal aid; Lord Philof Brum leading on an event; Bach leading on the oppositional argument
Semantic Networking: #LASPO Again we see Bach leading the agenda and partisan messages through the @LabourLordsUK aggregator. His case study ‘Imi Ahmed’ gained him media coverage
The Twittersphere for #lordsreform Debate on Lords Reform using #lordsreform features the aggregator, Lord Philip Hunt, Labour Deputy Leader as key figures in the debate.
Agenda Setting: @labourlordsuk and #lords reform@LabourLordsUK the main hub, then @LordPhilOfBrum, conversation involved a widerange of Lords and other political actors – Lords in particular: self interest?
Semantic Networking: #lords reform Focused debate, using few terms
Core findings• Content shaped by norms of politics or Twitter medium or a mix?• Mixed use of @ and #, # used to lead agenda and shape debates• There is no evidence of a pareto principle, network centrality can be manipulated with various measures• Clear strategy of linking to mainstream media• Lords work as centres of authority on issues• Hot, partisan issues (#LASPO) encourage high activity from key individuals; wider non-partisan issues (#lordsreform) encourage broader, focused conversations
Tentative Conclusions• Mixed use of Twitter, driven by interests and personality• Party politics dominant part of a mix, but not across all peers, general news prioritised by some.• Twitter can establish communication hubs and authorities• Twitter has high potential but dependent on individual usage