Has social media already told us the outcome of the alternative vote referendum?

‘Slacktivism’ is one of my new favourite words. It’s a term that refers to the showing of support for a cause or social issue that requires very little effort, and ultimately has minimal or no effect other than to vent the slackivist’s personal opinion. Unfortunately, I can’t take credit for its conception.

Social media platforms have become the perfect catalyst for those people who are only willing to engage in the simplest of measures to voice their opinion, and are not truly engaged in making changes to the world around them. You don’t have to look hard on Twitter, Youtube comments, and Facebook fan page comments to see what I mean.

So, with today being the day where we vote on whether we should adopt the Alternative voting system in the UK, I thought it would be interesting to perform a little experiment: To see if the popular opinion on Twitter on the the vote is a true reflection of the people who actually vote.

To achieve this; I’ve harvested Twitter for the frequency of the two most popular hashtags on the alternative vote: #yestoAV and #notoAV.

‘Yes’ tweets by frequency

Yes Vote Frequency on Twitter

‘No’ tweets by frequency

No Vote Frequency

The Results

#yestoAV
16,973 Tweets
#notoAV
12,191 Tweets

From the harvested data we can see that the ‘Yes’ vote is set for a win, but there’s not much in it. When the results are in for the actual vote we should be able to compare to see just how many people are quick to voice their opinion, but not so fast on getting out to help make a change. If the results of the vote comeback near enough the same as the data, then social media could provide an effective new tool for assessing the voting public’s opinion.

On the other hand, if the data doesn’t match up, it could either tell us that those who use Twitter don’t vote,  or that the amount of people who don’t use Twitter in this country is far larger than those who do. Either way, this experiment could reveal some interesting facts about the voting population, and discover whether social media is an accurate tool to rely on.

Data Source: http://archivist.visitmix.com – correct as of approx 5am 05/05/2011

By at 9:33AM on Thursday, 05 May 2011

A dab hand with all things web design, Andy is our Head of Design, and has been immersed in the creative world for almost 15 years. Having worked with many top Leeds agencies and some of the country’s well-known brands, Andy came to Branded3 three years ago, and has transformed our design department into the artistic and innovative hub of development it is today. Follow Andrew Machin on Twitter.

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