Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Mobile Tweeting from 2012 Election

Okay I stayed up all night watching the election to see how news impacted the level of tweeting from the ground.  I used the tweeter meter to make maps of key locations during the election.  This tool queries the number of tweets associated with a geo-location from the Twitter API, taking the most recent sample of about 50 tweets and calculating the rate at that time, for a radius of 250 meters.  Times on the screen grabs are in GMT.
The White House was a massive hub of tweeting, with almost 2,000 geo-tagged tweets coming from a 250 meter radius area in the hour when CNN called Ohio.  With about 5% of tweets geo-tagged this meant that 10,000s of tweets were coming from inside and around the White House.
Levels of tweeting from the White House are usually high, but these are extremely elevated, which should come as no surprise.  Rather it reflects the importance of social media to this President, to the media and to his supporters..

Real Time tracking of tweets from the White House Area

Twitter levels at the White House Washington DC
This reading was taken on the 25th of October when Powell endorsed Obama.  These were elevated readings but turned out to be a fraction of what we saw on election night. 

New York City's Time Square was a gathering spot for thousands of people with tweets going over 500 an hour when Ohio was called.  This reflects a crowd of several thousand people.  This is more a pure measure of popular use of tweeting to celebrate a victory, and proves that many of the White House tweets must have come from common people using smartphones. 
The story at the Romney site was much more subdued, though most people in Boston were celebrating an Obama win.  The area around Faneuil Hall where Romney was watching the results was subdued.  This reflects not only defeat, but perhaps also the less importance social media holds for Romney, the GOP and its supporters.  But the location of Romney in Boston complicates all conclusions.
Perhaps the most surprising what the limited extent of tweeting from the actual HQ sites were supporters had gathered.  Obama's Chicago HQ has a slight advantage in tweeting form location all night, but started with a significant advantage before the night began.

Not only was there no clear evidence of the enthusiasm gap between Obama's and Romney's people at the HQs, but the levels of tweeting, though elevated for those locations, were not by any means 'high'.

Maybe people didn't want to use their cellphones during a historic event.  From each site you got just under 100 geo-tagged tweets an hour at any time, which only translates in to maybe 5,000 tweets per hour.  I had imagined they would be higher, though they did rise during the event, especially at the Romney HQ were they went from 0 geo-tagged tweets an hour to almost 100. 

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