By June 27, 2012 0 Comments Read More →

Analysis of the Brazeau-Ditchburn Twitter firestorm

I received a request to publish some statistics on the firestorm ignited by Senator Patrick Brazeau’s now famous tweet.

Let’s start by noting a typical day involves only about 30 tweets from and referencing Senator Brazeau’s Twitter account, @TheBrazman. Yesterday was not a typical day. Yesterday, there were 5,074 tweets, including the 12 issued by the Senator.

It was a situation that came about from Twitter’s ability to facilitate rapid amplification. Nearly 60% of the traffic came from retweets. The original message was retweeted only 206 times. However, there was a cascading retweet effect and versions of the original message found their way in to 475 tweets. Commentary and outrage rounded out the chatter. Conversation accounted for only 21% of the traffic.

Engagement was typically low with 61% of participants coming and going in a single tweet. My analysis suggests there was an estimated 4.9 million impressions (opportunities for people to see the these tweets). However, the fact the story became prominent in print and broadcast media shows the role Twitter plays in making and breaking news. So, that impressions metric is essentially moot, now.

To paraphrase some tweets Josh Greenberg sent me.

An important distinction about the Twitter era is the hyper-visibility of transgressions and how they alter the dynamics of contention between/among politicians, journalists and the rest of us. The Senator isn’t the first politico to speak offensively to a Parliamentary reporter. But the degree to which the visibility of his comments became a political liability and PR problem for his government is new I think.

While I agree, I’m surprised the mounting number of examples of Twitter-borne crises hasn’t made an impact on people in the public eye. Indeed, it’s not just Twitter as I noted in a post earlier today. One need not look back more than a week to Jason Kenney’s biting criticism of Alberta’s deputy premier Tom Lukaszuk contained in an email that leaked to the media.

Josh also noted the speed of Senator Brazeau’s “apology” is telling. Others criticized the quality of the Senator’s two-part apology.

Mr. Brazeau issued the following earlier this morning.

Analysis performed using Sysomos MAP.

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About the Author:

Mark Blevis is a digital public affairs strategist and President of FullDuplex.ca, an integrated digital communications, public affairs and research company. His work focuses on the role of digital tools and culture on issues and reputation management. He also leads research into how Canadian opinions are shaped through online content and interactions.