How Does Twitter Data Affect Political Campaigns?
Social media platforms like Twitter influence political campaigns in many ways, this can include (but is not limited to) candidates, parties, events and organisations. With Twitter being one of the leading social media sites due to its incredible 450 millions active users daily making it a key tool for political campaigns to gain important knowledge about their demographic and further improve their strategies. I’m this blog we are going to focus on how Twitter can become a huge tool in political campaigns and benefit them in multiple ways.
Twitter allows political campaigns access to crucial information from the huge pool of data available on the site, it can offer real time sentiment analysis, demographic information and inform them of what strategies will work best for them. The site allows campaigns to learn things about users interested in their campaign such as age, location, behaviors, interests (including other political interests) and opinions. Campaigns can then use this data to make changes to their strategy and target responses to specific people that are engaging.
In this blog we will explore how Twitter can benefit political campaigns in the new online age, and how it’s one of the best tools to not only reach voters but learn valuable information about them and use that data to make informed decisions. We will look deeply into the difficulties and challenges when using Twitter to access data and provide insight to the future of the use of Twitter data in future, past and present political campaigns. We will also cover the ethical side of using Twitter data to find such information about potential voters, as well as campaigns in the past who have used Twitter data and their outcome. We will also explore how a tool like twtData can benefit political campaigns.
Understanding Twitter Data
Twitter data to easily put it is the information on the site generated by users this can include tweets, mentions, hashtags, following list, follower list, location, age, replies and more! This data can be collected manually or through various methods such as data scraping, data APIs and data partnerships. A great example of a data partnership is twtData, this is a tool that quickly allows the extraction of Twitter data so users can quickly begin to access the insights they need and use them to their advantage in various ways.
Twitter data can easily allow access to information about users, trends and tweet data. Often political campaigns will use tweet data to their advantage and pull data from users interacting in tweets with or about them in mentions and hashtags, and pull information on the specific users such as: age, location, education status, sexuality, gender, race and interests. Location data can be pulled from the tweet to find the specific country or region of users whereas interest data focuses on the topics users are interested in and interact with often. Last but not least behavior data is used to identify and analyze actions of the user such as likes, retweets, mentions and their following list.
Utilising Twitter Data in Political Campaigns
Twitter contains billions of pieces of information and data, the site is where people often go to freely express their opinions and everyday interests. Political parties can use this information to their advantage and aid their own success by accessing and analyzing this data campaigns can find crucial information based on the voter base and begin to make informed decisions such as strategies and how to reach their demographic.
There are tons of advantages for political campaigns using Twitter to aid them. The first one is how Twitter data can provide a detailed understanding to the campaigns audience covering their demographic and behaviors, allowing crucial information to be gathered. This data can allow campaigns to understand their audiences better and analyze the ways that they can reach them effectively and meet their wants/needs. Once campaigns use the data they often better understand their audience and they can begin to engage with them in ways that work best and then cater content or advertising specifically to that demographic and what grabs their attention the most.
Being active on social media is key for political campaigns especially when trying to build a community, these campaigns need to gain the trust and support of their democratic. A great way to gain that trust is by engaging with their community members and listening to their voices, using Twitter makes this easy to achieve as they can easily access their feedback and quickly respond or make changes inside the campaign.
Campaigns can often benefit from analyzing different demographics opinions and make decisions on what needs to change to gain their trust, attention and support to further aid the campaign. A large benefit campaigns can use Twitter for is aiming content towards specific demographics, and analyzing their behaviors, opinions, and interests. By analyzing this data can cater their content and change their approach or strategy to more effective ways that aid their campaigns and please potential voters and demographic. Twitter data is a perfect way to easily understand the age, gender and location of people interested in the campaign and then campaigns can quickly begin tailoring their content towards them, and increase the effectiveness of their strategy.
Campaigns can also use Twitter to respond to public opinions, criticism and general feedback quickly and effectively. By using Twitter data to quickly pull data from real time tweets campaigns can gain access to sentiments and feedback from the public and immediately respond to gain trust and respect from both inside and outside of their demographic.
Twitter engagement from political campaigns can lead to higher turnout and a larger number of supporters or even help sway voters against the campaign in their direction. A great example of this is Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns as Twitter data was used to inform campaign strategy, reach and engage with voters, monitor and respond to public opinions and sentiments. It shows the power of Twitter and how its data can heavily influence campaigns.
Twitter data also allows political campaigns to quickly access trends and stay ahead of them, for example if a specific hashtag in politics is suddenly gaining lots of engagement they can quickly tweet something with that hashtag before it’s on the trending page of Twitter, meaning more engagement and traffic to their page.
Although Twitter can have many positive effects on political campaigns it does have its downside with misinformation being a huge problem on the site. In recent years changes have been made to mark tweets that could be spreading misinformation with a warning so users can go and do their own research to find whether it’s true or not. Political campaigns should always be careful with Twitter data and be sure to fact check everything they analyze and use as an aid in their campaign.
The Impact of Followers and Tweets
Twitter data is divided into two separate categories: follower data and tweet data. Follower data focuses on demographic information and behaviors of people who follow a particular account such as the campaign itself and specific political figures. This information can tell political campaigns information such as age, gender, location, likes and dislikes, interests and more. On the other hand, tweet data is the contents of tweets that includes (but is not limited to): text, media (images and videos), mentions and replies.
For political campaigns follower and tweet data can be crucial in offering much needed information, and it can be used to better understand the demographics behaviors, political alignments and interests allowing political campaigns to cater content to them. A good example would be a political campaign that can use tweet data to find information about the demographic such as age, location, interests and behaviors and then use this information to aim advertisements or content towards them.
Tweet data can easily and efficiently be used to monitor and respond to public opinions, feedback and criticism. By keeping track of tweet data such as mentions, hashtags and other indicators of the audience's sentiment/feedback, campaigns can quickly gain valuable insights into how the public feel about specific issues and topics within the campaign and politics in general. This information can allow the campaign to rapidly respond to issues, trends or feedback as soon as they arise and allow campaigns to stay far ahead of the curve and relevant to voters and the public.
Twitter Data Analysis Using twtData.com
The extracting of Twitter data sounds confusing and time consuming so it’s important campaigns can easily access the data they need to aid their strategy. They can make use of a tool such as twtData that allows users to extract a variety of Twitter data including crucial information about their demographic, location data, tweet content, mentions, hashtags and sentiments. As well as this information the tool can quickly identify bot accounts or accounts spreading misinformation to report them and filter them out to avoid using the wrong data and violating many rules. This information is crucial and can completely change a campaign’s direction and public opinions on the campaign.
Overall twtData is a valuable tool for political campaigns that are looking for ways to improve their strategy and reach their demographic. With powerful and important data campaigns can learn new ways to improve the campaign strategy easily and begin making informed decisions.
By using a tool political campaigns can quickly access the required information instead of manually searching through Twitter and its millions of tweets, this way they save time and can be on top of the data. Campaigns are often very fast and must keep on track with their demographic and Twitter data makes that information easily accessible, and receiving that data manually can be time consuming and take more resources than expected, which is why data tools are incredibly important when pulling such crucial information from the social media platform. By using a tool such as twtData this can speed up the process and save precious time and resources.
Ethical Considerations and Challenges
Using Twitter data to aid political campaigns can sometimes cross ethical lines and may lead to controversy among the public, so it’s important that campaigns are completely transparent with the data they are collecting and using to aid themselves. They must also closely follow Twitter's privacy rules to protect themselves and other users, if they fail to comply they can be removed from the site on a temporary or permanent suspension. If not transparent about data collection they will be held accountable for misuse and violation of data usage, although there are safe and ethical ways to use this data. An example of this becoming a problem is in 2020 when the Democratic National Committee used online data to target political advertisements without being completely transparent, this caused a lot of controversy around the campaign and how truthful they truly were to the public.
Privacy is a huge ethical concern around the use of Twitter data, although it’s great data is so easily accessible political campaigns must ensure they are violating the apps users privacy and have the full consent needed to use the data to their advantage. An example of this is when in 2018 Cambridge Analytica was caught using Facebook data to target political advertisements and boost themselves in the 2016 US Presidential Election, it raised many privacy concerns and questions among online users.
In recent years many political parties have been accused of using bots to spread misinformation on the social media site, Twitter data tools can allow campaigns to filter out bots and remove them permanently from their page. The Russian interface in the 2016 US Presidential Election is an example of when bots have been used to spread misinformation.
When political campaigns use Twitter data as a tool to aid their campaign they should always go through many detailed fact checks to ensure their information is correct and not use or spread misinformation. Campaigns should work hard not to spread misinformation whilst following Twitter and political policies to ensure they are being as ethical as possible and stay transparent with their community.
Twitter data has and continues to have a large influence on the world of politics and how certain outcomes pan out. The social media site is fillies with millions of users full of strong political opinions and it’s up to political parties to decide if they want to take it as a negative or take advantage of it and use it to aid them in their efforts. The future of Twitter is promising and the talks of politics won't be leaving the site anytime soon, so it’s a great learning opportunity for political campaigns to use the site to their advantage.
It’s a key factor that political campaigns are being completely transparent about their use of Twitter data and always fact check the information they have gained from the site, this way they can aid their campaign, reach potential supporters and stay relevant whilst being ethical at the same time.
Political campaigns looking for an easy and non-time consuming method to access Twitter data can use a tool such as twtData that allows them to gather all the data they need and begin analyzing. Once they have completed analyzing they can begin making changes and catering towards their demographic as well as staying ahead of trends and criticism.
Political campaigns that want an easy and effective way to access Twitter data can use a tool such as twtData to gather all the information they require to begin analyzing. Once they have all the data they need they can make changes to their campaign and stay ahead of trends and criticism to become a better campaign.
References and Additional Resources
A list of references and resources for further reading on the topic of Twitter data and its impact on political campaigns:
The Political Power of Social Media, by Philip N. Howard
The Impact of Social Media on Political Campaigns, by Shailendra Singh
The Use of Social Media in Political Campaigns, by J. Matthew Hutchison and Daniel Kreiss
Data-Driven Campaigns: How Political Parties Use Big Data Analytics, by Rafael Lalive and David Stadelmann
Twitter Data and Political Campaigns: Opportunities and Challenges, by Johannes Koettl and Mark Latonero
Twitter as a Data Source for Political Campaigns, by Simon Hegelich
Twitter's Impact on Political Campaigns: A Literature Review, by Ailie Kilgour and Mark Sheehan
International Association for Political Science Data (IAPSD)
The Social Media and Political Participation (SMaPP) Laboratory