The Liberal convention took place this past weekend. It received the requisite media coverage afforded for conventions held by one of the three major federal political parties, with some extra attention for it being the first convention with Justin Trudeau at the helm.

Unlike the Conservative convention which received extra media attention due to Senate spending scandal trail getting increasingly close the Prime Minister himself (and some extra media pressure resulting from Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s conduct), the Liberals had to compete with (and to some extent were able to harness) Olympic hockey fever. You get the sense from the political class and media that perhaps this worked in Justin Trudeau’s favour.

As with all conventions, social media are playing an increasingly significant role. I used Sysomos MAP to examine the level of social media activity associated with both conventions.

Liberal Convention 2014

Online activity mentioning the Liberal Convention, using one of the two popular convention hashtags (#lpc14 and #lib14) or mentioning Justin Trudeau by his name or Twitter handle (@justintrudeau) follows the trend of growing online activity. Twitter remains at the front of that trend, with 17,443 Twitter users contributing 42,900 tweets, a combination of regular tweets (36%), retweets (54%) and @replies (10%).


The most committed participants in the chatter, those who issued eight or more relevant tweets accounted for 5% of traffic, as did those who contributed 5-7 tweets (also 5%). The moderately engaged, those who issued 2-4 tweets accounted for 23% of traffic The least committed group, those who came and went in a single tweets, contributed 67%.

The more interesting analysis is made possible with a buzzgraph.

Buzzgraphs illustrate the connection between key terms in the most active conversations. The stronger the connection between the words, the thicker and bolder the connection line. There are three levels of connection illustrated using a thick solid line (strong), a thin solid line (medium) and a thin broken line (light).

The buzzgraph from the Liberal convention shows there was density in chatter surrounding (and analysis of) Justin Trudeau’s speech, and the controversy surrounding retired lieutenant-general Andrew Leslie and his recently exposed (and controversial) moving expenses. The appearance of cpc in the graph is largely associated with the Andrew Leslie situation spanning two themes: the Conservative Party is using the scandal against the Liberals; and, the emergence of allegations that there were discussions between Andrew Leslie and the Conservative Party before he decided on aligning himself with the Liberals.

Other popular themes surround Canada’s indigenous people and the Olympics.


Conservative Convention 2013

In many ways, it’s not surprising the Conservative convention attracted more online activity than the Liberals. It’s a safe bet the Prime Minister will be the subject of more online mentions each day than the leader of the third party. Despite his popularity, Justin Trudeau has a tough match in the Prime Minister whose supporters and detractors (particularly his detractors) are far more active and passionate in their online messaging and frequency of posting.

In all, 18,800 Twitter users contributing 48,563 tweets, a combination of regular tweets (34%), retweets (56%) and @replies (10%).


It was the nature of the chatter which indicates the challenge the Conservative party faced in managing their own messaging. Online activity surrounding the convention was heavily concentrated around the Senate expense scandal, the Robocalls scandal and was even co-opted at times by chatter surrounding Rob Ford’s behaviour and any MPs who were willing to comment on it. Tax, as an issue, barely eeked out a place in the chatter.