It’s been a very slow news day today and it’s chucking it down outside, so we found ourselves stuck for entertainment. Earlier this afternoon alert readers will have noticed us tweeting about breaking through 35,000 Twitter followers, and while we were comparing that to various other entities for our own amusement (eg it’s over 10,000 more followers than Scottish Labour, the Scottish Conservatives and the Scottish Lib Dems put together), we stumbled across this feature from 16 months ago.
And because – as readers of our Panelbase polling features will know – there’s nothing we like more than the occasional wallow in some stats, we got to work.
Last July’s piece recorded the 50 most prominent and prolific Twitter accounts on the Scottish politics scene, or at least the ones we knew about. Mainly eschewing actual politicians (who tend to tweet rarely and say little of note), it comprised bloggers, activists, mainstream journalists, commentators, newspapers and broadcasters.
We figured it would be of interest (to us, at least) to see how things had changed.
Above is the top 50 for 2014. We’ve used the same accounts, so any exciting newcomers on the scene, or anyone we forgot last year, aren’t included. Three accounts have been closed since then – Labour MP Tom Harris (ironically the party’s former “Twitter czar”, who blotted his social-media copybook with a badly-judged “Downfall” spoof aimed at Alex Salmond and vanished from the web), The Herald’s main account (it’s hard to be sure which one has replaced it), and that of Eddie Barnes, who left the Scotsman to work for the Scottish Tories.
The big story is the spectacular social-media success of Yes Scotland, which added over 100,000 new followers to its 2013 total to become by far the most-followed account, with almost double the number of the SNP, both of them knocking 2013’s table-topper (the Daily Record) into third spot.
Sorting the chart by who’s gathered the most new followers is enlightening:
Yes Scotland and the SNP come out top again, but at No. 3 is a website you may have heard of, which added a whacking 31,295 followers to its tally. And if you sort by percentage increase, it’s an even prettier picture.
Way out in front with an 845% increase in followers is little old us, but it’s hard not to notice the political alignment of all the top performers. Wings, Business For Scotland, Radical Independence, National Collective, Yes Scotland, the Scottish Greens, Pat Kane, the SSP, Bella Caledonia and the Sunday Herald make a clean sweep of the top 10 for Yes-supporting sites (along with four of the next five).
It’s hard not to also note the inverse relationship between either of the last two charts and the voices which get to appear on broadcast media. The top echelons of any of the charts above are notable for the near-total absence of any of the people in them from the nation’s airwaves, with the exceptions of Lesley Riddoch and (to a lesser extent) Pat Kane.
The talking heads employed by the BBC and STV and others are almost unfailingly people with a tiny fraction of the following of those higher up in the listings – basically the further down the chart you go and the less popular a pundit or journalist is with the online public, the more you’ll see of them on air.
Finally, for completeness, the chart sorted by position change on 2013:
Other than the rocketing up the table of ourselves and Business For Scotland, the main feature of note here is the appearance of Daily Record political editor Davie Clegg at No. 8, interrupting the otherwise all-Yes make-up of the top 10 again despite a modest total of 4372 followers, barely a third as many as anyone else in the first dozen but representing a respectable climb of nine places on last year – albeit from a starting position of No. 49, which is kinda hard NOT to improve on.
So that was our afternoon. Fingers crossed for some major events soon, eh readers?