Analytics and Insights, Brussels, Data Science, European Union, Global Politics, Insights, Politics, Public Affairs and Communications, Social Media, U.S. Politics

The German election and EU political communications

For this post, I decided to remain old school and mainly rely on search data. It’s pretty basic, but typically offers a great view of what people are interested in. Google’s market share is around 90% in Europe and it’s the most visited site in the world. In my opinion, Google Trends is the largest focus group in the world.

First I looked at the overall interest in Germany between Angela Merkel and Peer Steinbrück, as well as their political affiliations – the CDU and PSD. Initially, I was curious as to how party identity interest compared to interest in the politician. To anchor this chart I did the same with US presidential campaign (the chart below). I have a hunch, and the data seems to be telling me thus far, that the more media-oriented politics becomes (along with everything else in the world), the more important celebrity, authenticity, and individuality becomes. Take a look at this recent brand analysis done by Forbes. Chris Christie wins, having the highest approval rating of over 3,500 “brands” according to BAV (awesome company) at 78%. For those that don’t know, Christie is probably the most straight forward tell-it-like-it-is politician in the country.

So what can we learn from the Google search interest shown below?

Google search data of the 2013 German elections

Google search data of the 2013 German elections

Obama, McCain, Romney, Democrat and Republican search interest.

Obama, McCain, Romney, Democrat and Republican search interest.

  • Politics is still about sheer volume and name recognition. For those that think being novel and unique achieves victory over blasting away nonstop in a strategically framed and coordinated way, think again.  People tune out if they aren’t interested. Irrelevance is almost always worse than bad PR  or sentiment (excluding a case like Anthony Weiner). You simply don’t win if you don’t interest people. If people aren’t talking about you, you’re not interesting. Merkel had more search interest than Steinbrück and over the course of the year probably got 10,000 times more airtime, both good and bad, due to her large role in the euro crisis.  In short, repetition is king.
  • Framing and consistent language strategy is vital. Volume can be shown to equate with recognition of a person, but this can easily enough be analogized to a policy or issue. Give me a choice between a clever social media strategy or consistent language strategy, meaning all the key issues are repeated by the party and coordinated as much as possible, and I’ll take the language strategy any day. It’s amazing how just being consistent in political communications is overlooked by companies and political leaders in Europe. Social media tends to be a framing conduit, not the reason people mobilize or have opinions.
  • The world is growing ever more connected. Look at how global the reporting of the German election was. Obviously, its importance was higher due to Germany’s rising influence, but none the less the amount of sources from all over the world is impressive. A note for the upcoming EU elections: don’t forget to target the USA and other regions to influence specific regions in Europe. A German constituent might read about a policy from the Financial Times, a Frenchman the Wall Street Journal or an American based in Brussels, who knows Europeans who can vote, Bloomberg.

Location of sources reporting on German elections events/happeningsI decided to throw in Twitter market share of the candidates from August 21st to September 21st, the day prior to elections.  I found it interesting to see how closely Belgium and the United State reflect Germany, probably because these countries are looking at the elections from more of a spectator view. Meanwhile, southern Europe, which had a vested interest in the election, was pretty much aligned. France, Spain, and Italy seem to report a bit more, and in a similar way, on Merkel – probably due to sharing the same media sources. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to look into this pattern too much at the moment, but it’s something I’ll continue to think about in the future.

Market-share of Twitter for Germany Election candidates: USA,DE,BE

Market-share of Twitter for Germany Election candidates: USA,DE,BE,PT,FR,ES,IT

DE Elections Twitter market share south EU

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, Global Politics, Insights, Linguistics, Lobbying

Your next firm should be an IT firm.

I’ve interviewed with them all. The big firms, the small firms. Both in Brussels and in New York.

After working in the European Commission and Parliament, I wanted to go to the private side of Communications and Policy. The problem? I had been running data and insights. Using terms like NLPSentiment analysis, cognitive science and connotation mapping to describe what I did not work well. On the other hand dumbing down would leave me looking like another 27 year old who does “the social media” and or “the internets”. Most firms doing the interview for analytics positions wanted to hear “pivot table”, “engagement”, “influence” and maybe SPSS. Upping the hierarchy on those terms to explain why “something was” appeared unnecessary and impractical since explaining this to a clients communications director is another task with in itself.

So to hell with the PA/PR firms, I joined an IT firm that also does communications – Intrasoft International, and could not be happier.  The people’s skill sets are well defined and paid, which gives them a certain confidence in contrast. They like things such as analytics and completely understand them. Their only fault is the soft side of Communications – which is now my job to merge.

IT is going to take over communications sooner than later. Current  PR firms will be left scrambling. The lack of investment in the deeper meaning (abstract knowledge such as transference, retention and pragmatics) will start to show as data/connotation mining becomes a standard practice. Most IT firms already have this infrastructure in place via their AI departments.

There will be a point where dropping shit jargon is irrelevant and companies Comm Director, who should be more of a CIO/CTO in the nearer future, will see right though it.

My 2 cents. Also check out my presentation at


Analytics and Insights, Brussels, Data Science, European Parliament

German EPP MEP Disconnect

Regional online media engagement  for  German and French EPP MEP’s:  The chart clearly illustrates Germany is not engaged with their European Parliament representation, or better, the MEPs are clearly not in touch with their constituents. Can someone say democratic deficit?

•64% of German EPP MEP media is coming from Germany.
•84% of commented media on German MEP’s is from France.
•Germany only accounts for only 10% of comments of  it’s MEPs.
•Germany  does not comment on  French EPP MEPs (0%).
•French EPP MEP comments are from the USA and France (both 48%) and Belgium at 2%.
Analytics and Insights, Data Science, Global Politics, Insights

Twitter and it’s Correlation to Facebook and Media Comments: GOP Primaries

The Chart shows the correlation of Media comments and Facebook posts, in reaction to Twitter output , in regards to GOP primary Candidates. It’s no surprise there is a downward trend for Facebook. The two channels tend to be segregated politically. Twitter being more conservative and Facebook being more liberal.

Brussels, Data Science, European Parliament, European Union, Insights, Lobbying, Public Affairs and Communications

EU Political On-line Trend Graph From the 2011 Summer

I thought that I would post a trend chart that I found. It is from the 2011 summer of rebellion. Please ask questions:



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.