On the back of the US elections, there has been a lot written about the influence of social media in politics and on how social media can be used to gauge public opinion.
Whilst the recent elections may have been smashing social media records, we’ve had our own little social storm here in the UK. I am of course, referring to Nadine Dorries MP appearing on reality TV show ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’.
Using our social media monitoring tool, Sentiment Metrics, to follow the buzz surrounding her reality TV appearance we have seen some interesting results.
Since last Tuesday, when the news of her appearance broke, there have been over 12,000 mentions of her on public social media channels. Unsurprisingly, the most mentions (3200) came in the immediate aftermath of the announcement. My own lists and social channels suggested a less than favourable reaction, but sentiment analysis showed a reasonably high proportion of positive mentions (see chart below).
On closer analysis, many of the ‘positive’ mentions were expressing positive sentiment without being positive about Nadine Dorries herself. There were, for instance, a lot of people expressing their delight that she would be on the other side of the world for a few weeks; many others were very happy at the thought of her eating a kangaroo’s testicle; and some expressed the view that it was a great decision by the show to include her.
Nadine Dorries was a great choice for 'I'm a Celebrity'. The producers must be loving the publicity and they've not even started yet!
— Robert Tyson (@TheTysonReport) November 6, 2012
There were also a significant number of positive tweets later in the day when it was announced that David Cameron was withdrawing the party whip. It seems this move was largely well received by social media users.
Nadine Dorries is on the other side of the world and has been suspended as an MP. The best news I have heard in ages.
— PeteBrissenden (@PeteBrissenden) November 6, 2012
Good on Cameron.. Nadine Dorries suspended from Tory Party.
— Tim Dempsey (@tim_dempsey) November 6, 2012
Nadine Dorries has today done two remarkable things - made herself more ridiculous, and made the Parliamentary Conservative Party less so.
— Neuroskeptic (@Neuro_Skeptic) November 6, 2012
With regards to negative mentions, it is clear that a lot of people were unhappy about her leaving her constituency and her parliamentary duties.
Glad to see Nadine Dorries suspended. She should be bloody sacked. Disgraceful betrayal of responsibility to taxpayer and constituents.
— Jamie Grierson (@jamiegri1981) November 6, 2012
There were also a lot of users criticising her politics in general – particularly her views on abortion and gay marriage.
— J. (@ItsJRCBitch) November 5, 2012
On the whole, her decision to go into the jungle was not well received by social media users.
In the days following the announcement the buzz dropped off to previous levels, until the show launched on Sunday. Since then, Nadine has actually had significantly more positive mentions than negative. Granted many of these are still viewers relishing the idea of kangaroo testicles, but she is also winning over a lot of fans.
I have to hand it to Nadine Dorries. She's actually going through this allegedly for political sake. Wow #ImACeleb
— Funmi Olutoye (@FunmiOlutoye) November 12, 2012
— Lauren Pope♥ (@LaurenPopeFans) November 12, 2012
— shilpa pennie p (@ShilpaPennieP) November 12, 2012
It will be interesting to follow these developments over the coming days and weeks. After suffering an initial battering on social media, perhaps she’ll continue to turn things to her favour.
The point of this post actually has nothing to do with Nadine Dorries or reality TV. The point is, should politicians and political parties be paying attention to what is said about them on social media and can it accurately gauge the opinion of the electorate?
Update: Twitter users got their wish last night when Nadine found herself eating lamb’s testicle, baked camel toe and ostrich anus.
Post by Jeremy Taylor from Our Social Times