The battle for Twitter

By Paul Afshar
April 9, 2010

Paul Afshar- Paul Afshar is senior account manager at public relations firm Edelman. The opinions expressed are his own. -

Twitter claimed its first scalp in the Election campaign on Friday with the sacking of Labour candidate for Moray in Scotland, Stuart MacLennan, following a series of controversial tweets on the site.

Whether or not 140 characters will influence the election campaign is a moot point, but with 2.5 million UK users including the PM’s wife Sarah Brown and actor Stephen Fry, Twitter will no doubt have some influence on conversation around the campaign.

To track its impact, Edelman has used its Political TweetLevel tool to track and measure the influence, trust engagement and popularity of the top 150 politicians, bloggers, candidates and journalists, ranked by their influence, on Twitter during the campaign.

TweetLevel measures the influence of individuals on Twitter based on a number of factors (including re-tweets, followers, frequency of tweets, references etc measured by an algorithm).

But enough about the science and down to the findings.

The battle for influence on Twitter is decisively being won by Labour, a trick the party will no doubt want to emulate in the polls.  Labour politicians and candidates are greater in number and by influence in the top 150 with MP for West Bromwich East Tom Watson topping the ranking, beating even Downing Street and David CameronGrant Shapps, the Shadow Housing Minister beats all other Conservative MPs for influence, closely followed by party favourite Eric Pickles.

Conservative blogger Iain Dale’s influence in the blogosphere extends to Twitter as he beats his counterparts to win battle of the bloggers, and Tory leaning bloggers Guido Fawkes (Paul Staines) and Tory Bear beat their Labour leaning counterparts taking the 10th and 13th spot respectively.

However, the perhaps unfairly termed ‘dead tree press journalists’ are not far behind with Evening Standard stalwart Paul Waugh the most influential journalist.

The PM’s wife, Sarah Brown, has seen her influence and popularity on Twitter fall in comparison to her husband, with Downing Street now exceeding Mrs Brown’s 1.1 million followers.  And the battle of the Miliband brothers is being won by David who, we’re sure much to the chagrin of his younger brother Ed, wins by influence and popularity.

The UK’s millions of Twitterers look to none other than the former deputy PM turned online activist John Prescott as the most trusted with his Go Fourth battle brother Alastair Campbell taking the tenth spot for influence.

Notable absentees from the top 150 include the bête noir of the Daily Mail, Harriet Harman, darling of BBC news Nick Robinson and host of Sky’s Prime Ministerial debate Adam Boulton.

Here are the top 10:

1.    Tom Watson (MP for West Bromwich East)

2.    John Prescott (Former Deputy Prime Minister)

3.    Iain Dale (Conservative blogger)

4.    Sarah Brown (Wife of the Prime Minister)

5.    Downing Street (Effectively the PM’s Twitter)

6.    Kerry McCarthy (Labour’s Twitter ‘Tsar’ and MP for Bristol East)

7.    Lib Dems (Effectively Nick Clegg’s Twitter)

8.    Conservatives (Effectively David Cameron’s Twitter)

9.    Guido Fawkes (Conservative Blogger)

10.  Alastair Campbell (Former Director of Communications for Tony Blair)

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