Calm down dear, it’s only a tweet

@ericpickles’s careless omission of the ‘r’ in ‘shirt’ turned a harmless retort into mass hilarity. All of this makes tweets a good way to gauge instant mood and response. A handy thing at election time. But caution is needed because we’re then obliged to look at who is tweeting and quickly conclude that this not a broad demographic, rather a narrower political and digital elite. This isn’t to dismiss Twitter and other social media, quite the contrary; Tweetminster’s analysis on tweeting around the debate shows 184,396 related tweets from 36,483 people and, at peak time, over 41 tweets per second. Last night’s sentiment analysis from Tweetminster was pretty clear cut too and generally in line with the follow-on polls (other than Twitter sentiment seemed to place Cameron consistently behind Brown, the reverse of the three post-debate polls, I’ve looked at). So Twitter did add a dimension to the debate. On Facebook the comments were much less acerbic than those on Twitter. Was this to do with no limitations on size? I don’t think so as they were largely short anyway. My guess is that the Twitter audience was more of the politically active and Facebook’s the political interested. Again though Facebook sentiment reflected the opinions expressed elsewhere, with Nick Clegg rating highly. To put all of this in perspective, Google’s blog points to a lot of searches for terms relating to the debate but the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano and the closure of British air space overwhelmingly exceeded it in terms of public interest. Welsh AM @bethanjenkins is starting to lose a bit of faith with social media despite seeing the crossover potential to get the political word out. I think Bethan’s got a point here, Twitter’s value remains firmly rooted in its ability to create cross-over into non-digital communities but doing this is difficult. And there was little to enlighten, educate or advance the debate coming out of it last night. As @RickyTicky said “Tomorrow’s news will be full of what role Twitter played in the #LeadersDebate, when really we’re all just making jokes…”.]]>

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