Click to enlarge graph
Social media media platform Twitter has said there were more than 500,000 spill-related tweets last night in the 12 hours around the Rudd Gillard leadership battle.
A graphic released by the company shows traffic began to grow at 4.19pm, when Julia Gillard announced the caucus vote, and then building steadily always spiking at major announcements such as during the Kevin Rudd and Bill Shorten press conferences. The largest spike in traffic occurred at 7.54pm when the result of the leadership vote was announced when there were more than 5000 tweets per minute.
The figures correlate with data analysed by the Queensland University of Technology’s Centre for Creative Industries and Innovation’s Axel Bruns who said the traffic was similar to what has been seen in previous political leadership spills.
“There is a big amount of anticipation and traffic building especially in the hour before the vote and then just before 8pm that’s the big spike,” said Bruns.
“What is interesting this time around is that Twitter was used more as a back channel to television coverage, which was ongoing, and because of the long lead up to the event,” he said.
“In previous leadership challenges we’ve seen Twitter used for sharing a lot of rumour and gossip but this time Twitter it came more out of the blue and was more keeping people informed about what was going to air at the time on major news coverage.”
ABC journalist Lucy Carter had one of the most retweeted comment of the night on the #spill hashtag tweeting: “Somewhere, Tony Abbott is sitting in a darkened room, slowly stroking a Persian cat. #spill”
According to CCII’s analysis Carter’s Abbott tweet was retweeted almost 1300 times. “This tweet was widely republished and in some ways is self reinforcing more it gets tweeted the further it gets seen and then retweeted again,” said Bruns.
Another widely commented on tweet from jobs website seek.com.au which tweeted: “Hey @JuliaGillard, we can help you out! ; ) #spill #auspol”
Bruns said this drew both praise and significant amounts of criticism. “Probably a majority of people saw it as humorous and retweeted it but there was also a vocal minority saying too soon and have some respect,” he said.
The most mentioned Twitter accounts were Jullia Gillard’s, Kevin Rudd’s and two ABC accounts.
Click to enlarge. Image credit: Axel Bruns QUT Institute for Creative Innovation.
“With Rudd and Gillard there is the more obvious political dimension that people use their Twitter handles to talk about them there is nothing surprising while ABC and ABC 24 did well on the back of their retweets,” said Bruns.
“The ABC were very good about putting the #spill hashtag into all of their tweets and that got widely retweeted.”