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Observing Malaysian Social Media

Partisanship of Politicians’ Followers by Affiliation

View the high-resolution image at (http://www.flickr.com/photos/politweet/7842715014/in/photostream/)

This network graph shows the connections between Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) with their followers on Twitter. It visualises the size of the followers exclusive to each coalition, and the size of the overlap. This version is colour-saturated to show the partisanship a bit more clearly.

This graph is based on a snapshot of followers taken on August 2nd 2012. There are 1,036,932 total followers.

How to read this graph

  1. The red node represents PR. The blue node represents BN. The nodes are sized based on the number of followers.
  2. Each grey node represents 1 Twitter user. A node is connected to BN/PR if that user follows BN/PR.
  3. Connections to BN are blue, connections to PR are red. Overlapping (purple) connections indicate non-exclusive users.
  4. Connection strength is based on the number of politicians followed by the user.
  5. Nodes that are connected only to BN or PR are exclusive to that coalition.

Facts and Observations

  1. PR has 314,302 followers. BN has 876,138 followers. BN has 2.788 times more followers than PR.
  2. Active followers have used Twitter in the last 1-2 months.PR has 188,045 (59.83%) active followers. BN has 507,899 (57.97%) active followers.
  3. PR has 151,822 (48.3%) exclusive followers. BN has 719,341 (82.1%) exclusive followers.
  4. PR has a relatively small group of exclusive followers compared to BN. The PR-exclusive followers are the left-most semi-circular clusters (forming a red ‘fan’), representing 48% of all PR followers. The remainder of PR’s followers follow both BN and PR.
  5. The BN-exclusive group are concentrated in the top and bottom clusters. Its clear that either cluster is bigger than the PR-exclusive cluster.
  6. PR-exclusive followers start following both BN and PR at an average rate of 1935 users/month.
  7. BN-exclusive followers start following both BN and PR at an average rate of 929 users/month.
  8. PR-exclusive and BN-exclusive followers switch parties at very small rates, between 19-59 users/month.
  9. PR has grown from 269,473 followers in March 2012 to 314,302 followers in August 2012. That is a growth rate of 16.64%.
  10. BN has grown from 624,227 followers in March 2012 to 876,138 followers in August 2012. That is a growth rate of 40.63%.

Conclusion

PR has a slow follower growth rate and a higher migration rate of exclusive followers to non-exclusive status. This indicates that PR followers are more open to receiving messages from BN.

BN has a high follower growth rate and a lower migration rate of exclusive followers to non-exclusive status. This indicates that BN followers are less open to receiving messages from PR.

Barisan Nasional is doing quite well for itself. One area that could use improvement is the number of active followers.

Pakatan Rakyat faces a number of challenges. First is to ensure their followers don’t move towards being BN-exclusive. Second challenge is to get more BN followers to move away from being BN-exclusive to being non-exclusive; or PR-exclusive. This will help expose users to PR policies and ideologies. If they can repeat the PR message to BN-exclusive users, that will help improve the migration rate and encourage even more users to follow.

Both coalitions need to acquire more active followers who will help spread their message through retweets.

Data
Breakdown of BN followers:

Total: 876,138
Suspended: 21,091
Observer (0 tweets, 0 followers): 123,825
Inactive (no change in last 2 months): 223,323
Active: 507,899

Breakdown of PR followers:

Total: 314,302
Suspended: 8,055
Observer (0 tweets, 0 followers): 25,398
Inactive (no change in last 2 months): 92,804
Active: 188,045

Observer accounts are potential dummies. However many people do use Twitter as a news reader, so you can expect a significant number of Observer users to be real people. Many users also leave their accounts idle until there is a live event happening.

Update 23/8/2012 (in response to comments on fake accounts)
The issue of a dummy account needs to be raised together with a definition of what is considered a dummy. BN’s high follower count has being attributed to fake accounts, bot accounts and inactive accounts by civil servants and UMNO members forced to sign up on Twitter. These are the types of accounts that would eventually be detected and fall under the Observer and Inactive categories stated above.

Many of BN’s followers can be attributed to the Prime Minister (@NajibRazak). Without Najib, BN’s follower stats are quite different.

Breakdown of BN followers (not including @NajibRazak):

Total: 374,563
Suspended: 11,400
Observer (0 tweets, 0 followers): 49,167
Inactive (no change in last 2 months): 60,243
Active: 253,753

446,146 (56.87%) of Najib’s 784,477 followers are active. Najib gets retweeted often by a large number of users, so the influence of the account during the next GE cannot be discounted. A detailed analysis of Najib’s followers is definitely something worth exploring in future.

Dummy accounts make it look like the social media companies in charge are hitting their target, so they can earn their commission. But creating 100+K dummy accounts does not seem practical. You need an email for each, then signup on Twitter, then click the verification email, login and follow Najib – it is a lot of work.
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Written by politweet

August 23, 2012 at 4:22 am

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