With the Iowa caucuses less than a month away, the presidential race is going into high gear.
Lots of the press coverage focuses on who’s ahead or lagging and oftentimes social media is used as a kind of proxy for candidate popularity. But things are more complicated than counting Twitter mentions or followers. That’s why it’s worth taking a look at a social data metric that speaks louder than volume and share of voice: impressions.
Social impressions equate to the amount of individuals who could potentially see a specific piece of content, either from the original source or via syndication or reproduction. When it comes to Twitter data, a tweet’s impressions account for the original tweeter’s follower base, plus the follower bases of all retweets.
Why is this considered an important yardstick of social measurement in the Twitter data surrounding the U.S. presidential candidates? Candidates with disproportionate impressions to overall volume of mentions (more impressions with fewer tweets) indicates an influential audience and/or discussion of said candidate in more popular or credible forums such as high-circulation international news outlets.
An example is the Democratic debate that took place on December 19. While Bernie Sanders boasted more than 173,000 Twitter mentions to Hillary Clinton’s 141,000, Clinton accrued roughly half a billion more impressions than Sanders. This data, in examination with each candidate’s overall Twitter mentions, suggests Clinton’s follower base on Twitter is visible to more people with higher follower numbers.
Here’s a look at which candidate’s Twitter persona received the most impressions in the past month:
The below chart shows the pure volume of mentions each candidate has received in the past month. Donald Trump has far and away the most mentions, but if we look at the two candidates with the second and third highest volume of mentions (Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders), we see the following:
Sanders has about 493,000 more mentions than Clinton, but when we examine the impressions each candidate has accumulated, Clinton has about 442 million more impressions. With this data we can deduce that Hillary’s audience, even though they might discuss her less in the context of the upcoming presidential election, reach a greater number of people when they do.
It’s vital to examine the specific type of impression each candidate is leaving, through the lens of sentiment.
Each candidate’s sentiment is starting to move closer to a 50/50 split as their campaigns begin to mature. Bernie Sanders boasts the most positive sentiment for the Democratic party –within sentiment-categorized mentions, 60% of his are positive.
Within the Republican party, John Kasich and Rand Paul have the most positive sentiments with 67% and 64% of sentiment-categorized mentions, respectively.
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Kit is a Content Writer at Brandwatch. When he's not researching ways to make you better at marketing, he's often lost in foreign countries, or making pottery (or both). You can find him on Twitter: @Kit_Smith.