Time for Ottawa to embrace Idle No More appeared in the February 18 online edition of The Hill Times. It was written by Andrew Cardozo, apparently inspired by my analysis which identified an 84% drop in online activity surrounding the movement.
The thing is, that’s really not news and that drop doesn’t say a whole lot about INM. It just means the social media traffic is down, and very likely, for just a while.
What struck me about his statement is I’m fairly certain the upswing in social media activity was never considered by the movement as “really not news.” In fact, the online energy clearly thrust the Idle No More movement onto the national news stage and into the field of view of Canadians who were otherwise unaware. That’s a significant win (particularly on First Nations issues of which Canadians appear to be largely unaware) just as the apparent loss of online energy is a significant loss.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting the Idle No More movement’s success or failure is intrinsically linked to online chatter, or that the movement isn’t still busy pursuing its goals. On that point I whole-heartedy agree with Mr. Cardozo.
If nothing else, I feel the current level of online activity suggests the average Canadian has lost interest. Or, perhaps of greater concern for Idle No More, it wasn’t able to harness attention and support when it had it. This will likely make re-energizing public interest on a national scale much harder. It means they will need a greater focus on design, coordination, communication, participant/supporter activation and scalable calls to action — to name just a few. Plus, from where I sit, it probably means getting more hyper-local.
As an aside, I continue to follow and analyze Idle No More primarily because it’s a Canadian-made first-of-a-kind. I believe there’s much to learn from it and, as Mr. Cardozo points out, the story is still being written.
Idle No More reached a peak in December and then took a break over Christmas, with sharply decreased traffic, and then picked right back up in early January with a couple of key events and then the traffic slowed again.
To clarify Mr. Cardozo’s statement, Idle No More did experience a significant drop on Christmas Day — as did many issues that day except for maybe the “I didn’t get an iPhone or iPad” movement. That was one day. Otherwise, Idle No More maintained a very healthy level of activity during what I consider to be “over Christmas.” By Boxing Day, INM was already “right back up” and building.
What follows is the analysis of Idle No More online activity for February 24 through March 2, inclusive. Analysis was performed using Marketwire/Sysomos Heartbeat and a tool being developed for Full Duplex, currently referred to as Compass.
There was an 11% drop in all online mentions from last week’s analysis (from 21,786 last week to 19,391 this). Online forums including Reddit posted the greatest loss, falling 57% (from 300 to 128) followed by 25% fewer YouTube videos (118 last week, 88 this), 23% fewer Facebook mentions (from 2,912 to 2,249) and 9% fewer relevant tweets (from 17,985 to 16,349).
On the upswing? Online news mentions posted a 40% gain (from 244 to 341) and blog mentions were up 4% (from 227 to 236).
The movement posted a swell in online mentions on February 28 through tweets tagged with #IdleNoMore drawing attention to remarks by Tom Flanagan. In all, 1,632 Idle No More tweets (10%) mentioned Mr. Flanagan. Online promotion of a “Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance Training Camp” also contributed to the traffic.
The 16,349 tweets issued this past week came from 5,225 unique Twitter accounts; an average of 3.1 tweets per account. The trend of decreasing activity and decreasing overall participation (down 5% from last week) continues.
The three Twitter accounts which issued the most tweets tagged #IdleNoMore, #NativeWinter or including the text “Idle No More” were @idlenomoreyeg (707, up from 651 tweets last week), @stopharperbot (233) and @annfinster (221). They combine for 1,161 tweets or 7% of relevant tweets for the week. That’s down 5% for the top three tweeters from the week previous.
Gender splits skewed more male this week (55% male, 45% female). That reflects a 2% shift in gender participation over the previous week’s analysis.
Last week’s chatter included mentions of people including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Tom Flanagan (controversial remarks), Senator Patrick Brazeau (controversial personality), Leonard Peltier (imprisoned member of the First Nations community) and former Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan. Ryerson University made the list as a result of a presentation about online activism at last week’s Podcamp Toronto ‘unconference’ and a variety of locations highlight events and activities associated with the movement and its values.
The following buzzgraph illustrates 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 by a thick solid line (strong), a thin solid line (medium) and a thin broken line (light). The Buzzgraph that follows shows only two degrees of connection during the election campaign — strong and light.
The most-dominantly connected elements hinged on remarks by Tom Flanagan and various themes linked through the word “indigenous.” Conversations surrounding fracking and a March 20 “Global Day of Ceremony & Resurgence” are starting to pick up energy as well.
The most popular tweet of the week was issued February 27 by Anonymous. The tweet aimed to increase awareness of Leonard Peltier. It was retweeted 102 times and 25 people indicated it as a favourite.