Analytics and Insights, Brussels, Data Science, European Parliament, European Union, Global Politics, Insights, Politics, Social Media

A Quick look at 20,000 Tweets about the EU

From October 25 -> December 4th there were 20,022 Tweets Containing the words European Union, European Parliament and European Commission. This means tweets were quite specific and could not be mistaken for anything else, further of course the majority of posts were in English, although more than 30 languages were represented. Many of the quick findings reinforce numerous Social Network Analysis studies which show that most network opinions and frames are controlled by a minority of people – between 10-20% i.e.  elite level. Social media, despite a lot of hype, has not changed this.


The context surrounding these 20K Tweets

  • Were produced by 13,832 accounts
  • Retweets made up 28% of all Tweets
  • The Top 18 Tweets – in terms of most retweeted, made up 9% of all tweets
  • Top 18 Tweets that made up 9% of all tweets were made by 11 accounts
  • The most visible and retweeted Tweet was a coalition with FC Barcelona (below) – ( This leaves me to question why are there not more collaborations between the public and private sector in the EU?)


Top Accounts from Top 18 Tweets:

  • Wikileaks – 6 Tweets in Top 18 (33%)
  • Economist – 2 tweets in top 18 (11%)

Top Users commenting on the Euro. UKIP is seems to be taking a proactive approach to framing it’s primary fodder against the EU (the Euro Crisis).

  • @UKIP 32
  • @YanniKouts 23
  • @lindayueh 18
  • @AssangeC 9
  • @LSEpublicevents 8
Analytics and Insights, Brussels, Data Science, European Parliament, European Union, Global Politics, Insights, Lobbying, Politics, Public Affairs and Communications, Social Media

European Parliament Leadership: Channel Marketshare

While it’s trendy for public affairs professionals talk about social media, Twitter and Blogs, it’s naïve to think these are the main channels for engagement when it come to European Parliament Party leadership. Online mainstream news simply dominates in comparison.  It sets the tone of the issue, gets the most comments, and is shared ,“Liked” and Voted on the most.

Diving back into market shares and what leader controls each medium. The chart above shows  just how dominate Martin Schulz (at the time leader of the S&D at the European Parliament. Schulz has now replaced Jerzey Buzek as it’s President) was in December. MS controlled just about every medium, as well as has the most comments.

Starting from the right we see Mainstream News percentages and how each leader stacks up:

  • Martin Schulz (MS)  63%,
  • Guy Verhofstadt (GV) 25%
  • Joseph Daul (JD) 12%

On the second box from the left “MS ind MS” shows the market share of the medium/channel, in this case mainstream, is being use by the Party Leader. Mainstream news made up 61% of Martin Schulz’s online media. Comparatively GV is at 44% and JD is 35%. In all cases main stream on-line news provides the most media and comments for all leaders. Over the past six months I’ve seen a rise in Twitter, which is by far the most equal platform, and also JD’s 2nd highest individual medium.

We can conclude two things from the prior chart:

  • MS is winning the online battle for media and engagement. He owns 94% of comments leaving only 4% to GV, and 3% to JD.
  • JD severely under performs given the EPP’s size and amount of money they have.

Brussels, European Parliament, European Union, Lobbying, Public Affairs and Communications

The EU

Unfortunately the high cost of doing business – taxes, labour laws and questionable professional standards across all member states, threatens to marginalizes the EU between Asia and the US.

USA= Innovation, quick to adapt, dynamic work force, large integrated market.

Asia = Cheap labour, willingness to adapt, on the up and up.

The main issue is hesitation to adopt any new methods. In a knowledge economy such as the EU, liquidity of knowledge is a huge asset. None the less, as we see from the data debate, there are only worries and fears, no positives. This is partly Google and Facebook’s fault for not controlling the debate better, although with the cultural differences, I’m not sure it matters.

What ever side of the debate you are on, there is no way the Commission/Parliament will be able to regulate at the speed that such companies innovate and develop new technologies.

I liken it to a scenario:

Jose is trying to learn how to get a date. He decided to go to  a conference at a hotel that explains how to do this.  On his way to the room where the conference was being held, Jose encounters two doors.  One  leads to the conference  on how to pick up a date. The other door has a  sign that says “Successful single women’s conference. Please join us for a drink.  Anyone is welcome”.  Jose chooses the first door as he had planned, and continued learning and taking notes about how to get a date. The EU relationship with Technology is a lot like Jose’s approach to picking up a date, hesitant and unwilling to adapt in real-time, to the peril of the end goal.

In October I was giving a presentation about on-line media, trend, and sentiment analysis/monitoring to  institution officials. During the presentation I was  asked  “why do we need to understand what people are saying about us?” Admittedly  I was a bit shocked.  Interest in the EU has gone down every year since 2004, as well as voting rates.  In my view  a  good place to start building a proper message that mobilizes people, is to  find out how people perceive and talk about you in the first place. Thinking about the institution officials statement further, I concluded the real issue wasn’t that that  online monitoring couldn’t be useful for their goals, but it  would have created a real-time approach, the antithesis of the  institutional process Europe is familiar with.  The incentive wasn’t there either.

In the globalized future hesitation is dead, improvisation is king, and competition will be fierce. Both EU firms and institutions spend too much time discussing what technologies such as social media mean or can do but never act. On the opposite,  competition is the USA led to elections becoming a  science. The 2012 campaigns will feature natural language processing, text mining, sentiment analysis, and data scientists. These technologies will marginalize every medium and word. There will be  no room for “educated guessing”. This is efficient and saves time and money. Further it may help  yield larger voter turnout as did the 2008 U.S. elections.  Forward to the EU. The system is not competitive. The money is provided by the public, and the European Commission  is in charge of getting  people to vote with a neutral message. And they are still having conferences  about what social media means.The future will embrace adaptability and change, you don’t get the luxury of writing a 10,000 word strategy paper, or a controlled institutional process, life and business  move too fast.  If the EU  is going to have a chance using technology to it’s full advantage , it must first take a shot, and ask it out on a date.

Analytics and Insights, Data Science, Insights, Public Affairs and Communications

Active Communications

The idea of “Active Communications”  is based heavily on media monitoring listening data AND proper framing, which is a bit of an art (unless you have first class AI/NPL skills) . To work efficiently, a multi-channel infrastructure that allows for real-time content is paramount.

Important concepts to take away:

  • Timing and message coherency, to create a critical mass.
  • Trust the data for real time decision making.
  • Location based targeting with Fundamental,Technical and Sentiment analysis, per channel/medium.

Perhaps the biggest aspect is willingness to abandon prior methods after the data is received. You might be more comfortable with Twitter or another channel, but for the specific campaign it could be a  waste of time. Don’t fight up stream.

Analytics and Insights, Brussels, Data Science, European Parliament, European Union, Insights

Sentiment Analysis: Why is it important?


I examine this question with the help of Charts and the EU. Thank you..Click on the Charts to make them bigger.

So why is looking at on-line media important? The chart above (Lau, 2001) shows online media has expanded in the last 16 years. Online news has displaced print and broadcast to represent 46 percent of all content monitored globally. Increasingly online communications/media is becoming the main source of people’s knowledge for political affairs. In the era of the mediatization in politics and democratic theory, which assumes that an informed and attentive public is necessary for democracy to work effectively (Lau, 2001), understanding on-line communications is vital.

The Analysis of on-line media is a cross between what’s called data science[1] and “Culturomics” (Leetaru, September 2011). The goal is to find cultural trends through computerized analysis of online media to develop insights in the functioning of human society, thoughts and actions (Michel, et al., 2011). This process has been very accurate in forecasting instances such as box office sales (Mishne and Glance, 2006) to the stock market (Bollen, et al., 2011). To illustrate the power of data science and sentiment analysis in a political context scientist – using a super computer, applied tone and geographic analysis to a 30 year worldwide news archive. The scientist were able to forecast the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, the removal of Egyptian President Mubarak, the stability of Saudi Arabia, and estimated Osama Bin Laden’s hiding place within a 200–kilometer radius, in Northern Pakistan.

The point of all of this?

Media is a very accurate source for insights into the human condition, as well as our thought process. Now with the rapid expansion of online media, there is a wealth of untapped knowledge and syntax to further analyse.

The chart above shows the volume of searches based on the terms “European Parliament”, “European Commission” and “European Union”. They were also translated into French, German and Italian for further accuracy. The data was gathered with Google Insights[1] for Search. The chart does not track positive or negative sentiment, just the volume of the terms searched through Google[2]. The data clearly shows the interest in the EU has gone down since 2004. For both the European Parliament and Commission the top locations for the searches of the term were Ixelles, Luxembourg and Brussels – all home to the institutions themselves. This illustrates the “Brussels Bubble” that so many talk about
The Google insights data mirrors voting rates. In other words, voting rates (above) and participation have gone down.
The variables:
  • Lack of a unified media, hesitation on real-time engagement, failure to leverage modern instruments and an incentive to do so.
  • MEP and political parties do not have to raise money for re-election, and there is little incentive to actively engage constituents, on an individual MEP level as well since the parties puts forth the Politicians.
This frame work has lead to autonomy and citizens that look more toward national politics for answers. With the current financial “Euro” crisis it would be easy to assume that the interest in the EU – whether good or bad, would go up. This has not happened.

[1] With Google Insights for Search, you can compare search volume patterns across specific regions, categories, time frames and properties. See examples of how you can use Google Insights for Search.

[2] Google’s search market share in Europe is around 90%. In the U.S. it’s around 65%.

[1] The profession of interpreting and creating value from Data.

Data Science, Insights, Public Affairs and Communications

Market Shares and Topic Correlations: European Parliament Party Leadership

The chart above shows how much associated EP Group  leaders have on a variety of EU topics market share of the leaders on different subjects, including their own party. It’s possible that all leaders can be in more than one article so the totals can be over 100%.  The Green line rank the subjects of all the leaders combined. The EU ranks 1st followed by the Parliament – which should be expected, and then the Euro. Joseph Daul (JD) has the most association for the EPP Group at 81%, which is a good indicator for further party branding but not for pan EU leadership , where he lags behind all others.

On the far right, the chart shows the average and over/under performance to the market share compared to Group Parliament seats.

  • Guy Verhoftstadt (GV) (ALDE) is +7,
  • Martin Schulz (MS) (S&D) is + 20
  • Joseph Daul  (EPP) is at -20.

This does not fare well for the EPP Group. When looking at the market shares of EP leaders in context to one another, JD is consistently in last place. Why does the EPP vastly underperform while the S&D and ALDE over perform? This can be due to a number of reasons.

  • JD does not speak English
  • The EPP being the largest group cannot utilize polarizing and thus mobilizing language without alienating many of their MEP’s.
  •  JD has chosen to stay out of the spotlight given that Jose Barroso and Herman Van Rompuy[1] are EPP.
  • MS is from Germany which is heavily discussed at the moment, and will also become the new President of the European Parliament replacing Jerzey Buzek[2].

Robert Fitzhenery (Head of EPP Group Press and who controls the communications and outreach budget) explained to me that the EPP Group cannot be too polarizing on political issues because of it’s size, and cannot risk alienating some MEPs. On the other end some in the Group want to be more polarizing to mobilize debate and heighten the Groups profile.

During my work with the EPP, ALDE and GV typically lead market shares on media despite only having an 11% (88 of 754 MEP seats) market share of the Parliament[3]. I talked with Neil Corlett, Head of Press and Communication for ALDE. Neil explained since ALDE was a smaller group, they decided to follow whatever GV wanted and not deviate from a few main points. In short their message is consistent via both GV and ALDE’s MEPs. It paid off. ALDE is outperforming the EPP and S&D. And both have more money. It’s only in the last two months that MS has been generating so much sentiment. It will be interesting to see if this approach pays off in the 2014 EP elections. It will also be a good indicator of how mature the on-line EU landscape is.


Using Klout and Digital Influence

“The race is for a  system  digital currency wield the most social influence. One particular player has emerged, Klout, determined to establish their platform as the authority of digital influence. Klout’s attempt to convert digital influence into business value underscores a much bigger movement which we’ll continue to see play out in the next year. To some degree everyone now has some digital influence (not just celebrities, academics, policy makers or those who sway public opinion). But for the next year, the cult of influence becomes less about consumer plays like Klout and more about the tools and techniques professionals use to “score” digital influence and actually harness, scale and measure the results of it.”

– Just use Klout for Accountability. If the communications Unit’s goal is to get online, Klout can be a good way to hold people accountable. Nothing more at this point but there seems to be potential.