We’re into the second week of campaigning in Québec’s provincial election. I haven’t had a chance to dig deeply into the substance of the digital chatter, though didn’t want to delay the publication of some digital analysis.

First of all, it should come as no surprise that election chatter is well anchored on Twitter. The graph that follows shows Québec political Twitter activity in the week leading up to and the first week of the election. Lines on the graph show activity related to the hashtags #QCpoli (tweets tagged as being part of general Québec political chatter), #QC2012 (the most actively used to identify election chatter), and tweets tagged to identify the five major political parties.

NOTE: mention totals appearing in the following graph cover the period of July 25 through August 8 inclusive.

For the purpose of this post, I’ve focused on activity tagged with #QC2012.

In all, there were 97,569 tweets tagged with #QC2012 during the period of August 1 through August 8 (inclusive). Those tweets were issued from 11,438 sources which suggests an average of 8.5 tweets per Twitter account. However, some participants are much more active than others.

The most tweets issued from a single Twitter account come from PQ candidate @lamoureuxnicole who issued 755 tweets. Rounding out the top three are CAQ candidate @pierremorinqc (669 tweets) and PQ candidate @normand55 (653 tweets). In fact, the top 40 #QC2012 tweeters combined for a total of 12,702 tweets, 13% of the week’s traffic. While those numbers are impressive and suggest a significant interest, 57% of participants came to and left #QC2012 chatter in a single tweet; 30% participated to the tune of 2-4 tweets, 7% 5-7 tweets and another 7% 8 or more.

As is the case with most political chatter, original content makes up a small portion of the activity and conversation, represented by replies, is even less significant. Most of the traffic is retweets (rebroadcasts) of original content. Readers of my blog will be familiar with me referring to this type of traffic as the Amplifier Effect. Since retweets most often represent the equivalent of someone agreeing with the original statement (“Yeah! What s/he said!”), the Amplifier Effect allows us to extrapolate which issues resonate with the public.

Authority rankings suggest how much of an impact an individual’s Twitter activity carries. A majority of participants have fairly low rankings (4 or less). Those with high rankings (8 or more) are statistically insignificant.

Almost all of my research to date shows politically-focused online chatter skews male; averaging a 70/30 split. Québec is no exception. In fact, Québec political chatter online may even skew more male, with chatter associated with the CAQ flirting with an 80/20 split. This is an important reminder to campaign organizers that there is opportunity to engage women in the discussion, though Twitter is likely not the appropriate channel to make a significant impact. This is why people like me often talk about digital strategies which consider multiple tactics and exploit their ability to segment messages, actions and audiences. Twitter is a tool, not a strategy.

I’ll leave you with one last tidbit in this post… the most popular #QC2012 tweet of the first week of the campaign was issued by Option Nationale Party leader Jean-Martin Aussant. His tweet expressing frustrations that he’s been excluded from the debates earned 211 retweets and 9 favourites.

All analysis performed using Marketwire/Sysomos Heartbeat.

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