Wednesday, October 1st 2014: Wilson Hartnell, one of Ireland’s leading public relations agencies, has today launched the inaugural ranking of the most influential users of social media in the Irish political and policy landscape. This research has been developed from a detailed network analysis showing interconnections, intersections and influence to allow us to look behind the Twitter handle to see who is shaping and informing political debate and policy in Ireland.
We analysed the top 250 political influencers on Twitter and identified the #Power100 at the top of the rankings while also noting the more interesting examples of the use of social media from those outside of our Top 100. Within our Top 100, there is a broad mix of politicians – current, former and perhaps future – media, commentators and analysts from the world of academia, the charity sector and beyond.
Commenting on the research and launch of the inaugural rankings, Brian Bell, Managing Director, Wilson Hartnell said, “As an agency Wilson Hartnell has embedded social media across all our practices and in the work we do with many of our clients. We believe the launch of our first #Power100, gives a fascinating insight into who are the key social media influencers of today’s political and policy environment in Ireland. We intend to make this a calendar event and look forward to providing an updated analysis on the changes to rankings in early 2015.”
To rank in the top 10, influencers must have combined both broad public reach and influence on other influencers. Some are sources that generate the decisions and news – Oireachtas News (#10) or are individuals respected for their sources, analysis and record for breaking news, for example Matt Cooper (#2), Harry McGee (#5) and Fionnan Sheahan (#7). One of the only two TDs to break into the top 10. The first is Sinn Féin President and Louth Deputy, Gerry Adams (#4) with over 64,000 followers and more than 70 followers among the influencers. Independent TD Shane Ross is the second highest ranking Deputy (#6), with just over 30,000 followers. Though, #1 in our inaugural rankings is economist, broadcaster and author, David McWilliams with over 110,000 followers and more than 160 followers among our influencers.
Looking at those who sit around the Cabinet table, Minister for Justice & Equality, Frances Fitzgerald is the only member to follow all of her colleagues, while Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine & Defence, Simon Coveney are the most followed by colleagues, though Leo Varadkar doesn’t follow An Taoiseach, nor does the Taoiseach follow Leo.
Looking at political party leaders, in addition to Gerry Adams at #4, Enda Kenny ranks #14 with (128 power followers); Micheál Martin ranks #48 (88); Eamon Ryan ranks #30 (98). Although highly-ranked, the Taoiseach’s own account has not been inactive since July 2011, presumably reflecting a switch to using party and government accounts and uncertainty about how to best to manage his social media presence.
Outside the party leaders, Lucinda Creighton ranks top among TDs at #15 with 152 power followers and more than 15,000 public followers. Simon Coveney leads the Fine Gael TDs at #17 with 146 power followers. Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness (#25) leads his party’s TDs in the rankings.
We also analysed topics based on the frequency of terms in the content from our influencers. Earlier this year, the topics that dominated content from influencers skewed strongly towards an opposition agenda, with water and crisis looming large. Battleground issues that multiple influencers want to shape include women, jobs, health, business and hope. The government agenda was present mainly in the form of Europe and change. The business and process of politics is a large element of the conversation, represented in the frequency of terms such as minister, government, Labour, Taoiseach and debate. Noticeable in our research was that key events – such as the reshuffle – were well-managed announcements with information from the main source.
Alistair Hodgett, Head of Public Affairs, Wilson Hartnell said, “Influence in politics or over policy via social media is not the same as political power or influence, but it is a growing element of it. While there are some strong examples of social media use to build and leverage influence, the general picture is of missed opportunity and unutilised potential. Measured against three pillars of social media effectiveness, firstly frequency is intermittent and poorly timed; in terms of content there is little evidence of distinct policy agendas being consistently and convincingly asserted, and there is little use of campaigning tools to harness support and amplify issues. The potential of social media for shaping and informing politics and policy is a political prize waiting to be taken.”
Commenting on the analysis and research, Marshall Manson, EAME Managing Director, Social@Ogilvy said, “Many of those within the #Power100 and most of those in the sample of 250 are not using Twitter to its fullest potential as a means of driving the policy agenda or as an ‘always on’ campaign tool. If we look at the contrast of politicians in the US, at all levels they have replaced traditional ‘rapid response’ operations with ‘real time response’, as with consumers and brands, voters want to be connected in the moment. Looking closer to Ireland, I expect to see Irish politicians significantly increase their social media activity in the run up to a general election, and in particular for the Taoiseach and his team to get @endakenny up and running again. They must realise what a potent tool it can be during campaign season and beyond.”
Some simple advice that our politicians should remember is that the conversation does not end on Election Day, and that constituents increasingly measure a politician’s engagement and effectiveness by what they see on social media. In that respect, politicians need to follow the example of brands and integrate social media into their day-to-day interactions.
The full list is available at: http://www.wilsonhartnell.ie/about-wh/divisions/public-affairs-health/power100/
For further information, please contact:
Robert Marshall / Martyn Rosney of Wilson Hartnell Ph: +353 1 669 0030
Mob: +353 87 647 8542 (RM) / +353 85 728 2151(MR)
Email: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editor
About Wilson Hartnell
Wilson Hartnell (WH) is one of the longest established communications consultancies in Ireland. Today it is also the largest and most successful consultancy in the country representing a wide cross section of both Irish and international clients that touch every area of life in Ireland. WH, which is ultimately owned by WPP, the world’s largest communications company, is part both of the Ogilvy Ireland Group and Ogilvy PR (OPR) worldwide. Drawing on its international network WH also manages projects across Europe for a number of clients. WH is proud to represent some of the world’s leading brands and companies. In many cases the relationships between WH and the brand go back many years. We believe that the longevity of the relationships is testimony to the consultancy’s ability to keep itself at the cutting edge of the ever faster world of communications.
Together with @electionista, Wilson Hartnell developed the politics and policy network in part manually – including all the key journalists and politicians and commentators for example – and in part automated – analysing the networks of those we listed to discover common (relevant) followings. We limited the network size to 250 of the most influential accounts. To determine influence, we then analysed this network to see the mutual followings (the most followed within the network by others in the network). In other words, who the influencers pay the most attention to. Rankings are determined by a function of share of public followers and share of power followers.
We also extracted the most mentioned keywords and topics by this group over the analysed period.
Most of our analysis is focused on the #Power100 at the top of the rankings, but we have mentioned other influencers where that is of interest and we will post the full 200 on @wilsonhartnell.