THURSDAY 25 FEB 2010 10:39 AM


Comparative analysis indicates that whilst prime minister Gordon Brown's bullying has been one of the hottest topics on Twitter in the past seven days, it's seriousness has much less significance to Twitter users than to traditional media.

The analysis focused on media discussions relating to “Gordon Brown and Bullying”, with internet anaylsis firm Webtrends monitoring and analysing topics on this subject. During this period, the topic had been mentioned over 4000 times, with “The National Bullying Helpline” being mentioned over 3000 times. In contrast there had been over 200,000 general mentions of “Gordon Brown”, indicating Gordon Brown was mentioned in the context of bullying on a ratio of 3:1.

In contrast, the ratio of conversations on Gordon Brown in the context of bullying on Twitter had been 50% higher - a ratio closer to 2:1.

According to Damien Hews, a web analytics specialist with Webtrends, an interesting aspect of the research is that of 2422 tweets relating to the National Bullying Helpline, 67% were re-tweets. "The sheer volume of re-tweets demonstrates that this is a story which has captured people’s interest and is now forming the basis of thousands and thousands of conversations across the nation. Although this is a highly emotive subject it appears that Britain’s social media users are actually enjoying the discussion and are closely following how the saga will unfold.”

Webtrends' research also looked at sentiment analysis on twitter. After obvious words such as Gordon, Brown, prime and minister were removed, the most frequent words were 'denies', 'denying' and 'allegations' implying less weight was given to the topic than in traditional media. However, 'volcanic' and 'temper' weren't far behind.

The attitude from social media users seems at odds with Gordon Brown's previous dalliance with other forms of social media. Jennifer Pufky, from public affairs advisory firm Insight Public Affairs,  commented that “Gordon Brown is still viewed by many in the public as a traditional media figure. As he has rather unsuccessfully engaged in social media in the past, it seems his image has almost risen above it.  There were many who expressed their views of the Prime Minister on twitter during his interview with Piers Morgan a few weeks back. However, at the moment, a healthy debate is alive and well on twitter from all parties surrounding policy and the tactics moving into the next general election.”