David Talbot

A View from David Talbot

The Tweeting of the President

A new social media analytics effort points toward the White House.

  • August 21, 2012

Bluefin Labs, a social media analytics company that attempts to glean meaning from tweets about TV, is now expanding beyond sitcoms, sports, and shaving ads and attempting to analyze how people are reacting to the presidential candidates. It plans to apply its techniques when more of the national presidential TV ads air (to date, most advertisements have been in local markets, making analysis difficult because the location of tweeters is usually not available, the company says), and to analyze reactions to the conventions.

“We are going to be doing something nobody has ever done—looking at campaign TV ads and people responding to them on social media as they air,” says William Powers, director of the new effort, called The Crowdwire.

Bluefin’s effort is aimed mainly at providing story fodder and insights to the news media; it is not under contract to any party or campaign, the company says. Bluefin, a startup that grew out of research at MIT, is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts (see “A Social Media Decoder”).

It’s not yet clear that Twitter analytics provides actionable information or strategic insights to campaigns, says J.D. Schlough, founder of Well & Lighthouse, a Democratic political strategist firm in Washington, DC. For one thing, it’s not always clear how the people tweeting relate to the general population, or, more important, to the crucial registered swing voters in swing states. And regardless of what people tweet, it’s hard to determine whether someone has been swayed by any particular message enough to influence their vote, he says.

The Bluefin tool joins the Twitter Political Index, a tool that takes a daily measurement of sentiment toward Mitt Romney and President Obama as expressed on Twitter. That tool is based on a calculation from another analytics firm, Topsy, that analyzes tweets mentioning either of the candidates’ last names or Twitter accounts—@barackobama or  @mittromney—and gives a daily sentiment score between 0 and100.

The latest Insider Conversation is live! Listen to the story behind the story.

Subscribe today
Already a Premium subscriber? Log in.

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.
  • Insider Premium {! insider.prices.premium !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Our award winning magazine, unlimited access to our story archive, special discounts to MIT Technology Review Events, and exclusive content.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

    First Look. Exclusive early access to stories.

    Insider Conversations. Listen in as our editors talk to innovators from around the world.

  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus ad-free web experience, select discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.