The Twit-election: It's the conversation, stupid

August 18, 2010, Australian National University
The Twit-election: It's the conversation, stupid
This word cloud shows Twitter posts by Malcolm Turnbull MP during the time of the researchers' study.

( -- When it comes to Saturday's federal election in Australia, Twitter users are clear: politicians who spend time in conversation get most out of the platform, and the Greens are exploiting this better than the major parties, according to an Australian National University study.

The study, led by Dr Will Grant of the Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science at ANU, analysed the Twitter feeds of 152 Australian politicians to measure their influence on the social networking site and how they are using it to connect with voters.

The researchers found that overwhelmingly, conversation online was what added to a politician’s influence on Twitter, and that the Greens were more effectively using Twitter to engage with Australians than Labor or the Coalition. That dialogue with voters means the Greens’ views are being dispersed to a wider audience through ‘retweets’ and their party is getting more political space online than they have received in the mainstream media.

Dr Grant - aka @willozap on Twitter - said that by using Twitter for dialogue with Australians, the Greens are extending their reach to voters beyond the conventional media.

“Greens politicians are more likely than those in either the Labor party or the Coalition to use Twitter for political dialogue,” said Dr Grant. “And those politicians who engage in dialogue through Twitter get statistically more out of it, because their are more likely to be retweeted - passed on or endorsed.”

“The lesson for politicians and their parties from this research is that if politicians want people to pass on their ideas, then they need to engage in conversation. If they don’t, they’ll be either ignored or ridiculed.”

The researchers also looked at comparative mentions for political parties in the Twittersphere set against what those parties had received in , and found that minor parties were punching well above their weight.

“Where previously the Greens have garnered less than 3 per cent of the traditional media attention given to politics, in Twitter they’re gaining more attention, getting around 12 per cent of mentions of Australian politicians.”

The researchers’ paper, ‘Digital Dialogue? Australian politicians use of the social network tool ’, will be published in an upcoming issue of the Australian Journal of Political Science.

Explore further: Facebook and Twitter: the real winners in elections?

Related Stories

Beautiful politicians win more votes: study

December 7, 2006

Beautiful politicians win more votes, according to Australian National University research released today that asked an independent group of ‘beauty raters’ to assess the looks of 286 major party candidates who ran in ...

Twitter to overhaul user list seen as partisan

November 17, 2009

(AP) -- Social-networking site Twitter plans to end a service that links prominent message posters with new users, a service that was criticized in California because of perceived unfairness toward GOP gubernatorial candidates.

Internet activists push for greater democracy

November 25, 2009

(AP) -- The Internet can be a powerful medium for politicians to get their message across but it is also a vital means for civilians to have a say in what politicians do, participants in a political conference say.

Recommended for you

Secrets of extinct cow with face like a bulldog revealed

June 15, 2018

An international team of scientists have used the latest genetic and anatomical techniques to study the remains of a cow with a short face like a bulldog that fascinated Charles Darwin when he first saw it in Argentina 180 ...

Ancient mammal ancestor found and identified in China

June 14, 2018

A team of researchers from China and the U.S. has identified a new ancient mammal ancestor recently found in a part of China. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the group describes the creature, which they have ...

New research unveils true origin of ancient turquoise

June 13, 2018

New research published today in the journal Science Advances overturns more than a century of thought about the source of turquoise used by ancient civilizations in Mesoamerica, the vast region that extends from Central Mexico ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.