With every day that goes by, the traditional sources of information and influence in our society become less relevant. This is especially true when it comes to politics. Deval Patrick is the Governor of Massachusetts because he empowered and trusted civically-minded voters, not the media in 2006. The key to Obama’s victory last year was people-powered as well. It was the neighbor to neighbor contact that was modeled in Chicago, and executed in hundreds of precincts across the country that trumped the traditional top-down media buys and unproven software from Mitt Romney’s campaign. Who remembers the fall refrain “…but Romney has more money on TV in the final weeks of the campaign?”
As information is passed from friend to friend, online as well as online, for one to understand our politics and culture — its important to identify where the new spheres of influence reside. So, over the last few weeks at SocialSphere, our team analyzed about a quarter of a million tweets from the last month of the 2012 election and used our proprietary ORBIT™ algorithm to rank 25 of the most influential people driving the online conversation about politics in Massachusetts, and the futures of Elizabeth Warren, Scott Brown, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Deval Patrick and countless others.
And what we found was that we don’t know as much as we think. We found that:
- A young State Senator from Western Massachusetts, @BenjaminDowning (#24), was slowly and steadily creating a loyal group of followers statewide before many people have even heard his name;
- Four of the most influential voices on the right (@Norsu2 (#3), @jslconsulting (#5), @rumpfshaker (#10), and @AustinHess (#11)) do not have an AM talk show, column or political office, but instead have 140 characters and a lot of passion; and
- @dbernstein (#6) from the Boston Phoenix is stirring up more chatter and having a greater impact online than his counterparts from the Boston Globe and Boston Herald.
Whether it’s politics, diplomacy, the movies or a mutual fund — the key to moving your product or idea is not only what the Mad Men say on prime time, but its what your neighbors and friends say all the time. Our algorithm takes 5 key factors into account to establish influence on Twitter and on most other platforms — and they include:
- Onsite engagement (do you lecture, quote press releases, or dialogue with others?)
- Reach (how many people, eyeballs do you reach?)
- Bias (what’s your POV? is it constructive?)
- Influence (what are others doing with your content? are others engaging with it?)
- Topicality (how often do you create content on what we care about?)
Like executing a NFL offense, or directing an orchestra, for movements to happen online, most everything needs to work in harmony. Someone with a lot of followers who is not often re-tweeted (hint: Senator Brown) does not have the voice that he or she may deserve online and suffers in our model.
Here’s our list of the Top 25 from last Fall — they will all be part of my Twitter feed soon — and much more than that for our next U.S. Senator I predict.
For those interested in the rest of the top 50 — or others to watch, shoot us a note and we will send you the rest.