UPDATE: Those who would prefer a more cerebral analysis (without another list!) should check out Sunder Katwala’s post from yesterday.

In the wake of Tweetminster’s report on Twitter and UK politics, Left Foot Forward have re-ordered Iain Dale’s list of the “Top 20 Labour Twitterers” using Edelman’s TweetLevel service. One of the headline findings from Tweetminster’s research was that Labour’s twitter presence is composed of a broad movement of activists rather than “official” accounts and key players in the party machinery. This is reflected in Dale’s list, based purely on follower numbers, by the conspicuous absence of a number of key left-wing influencers such as Jessica Asato and grassroots activists like Kevin Peel.

Nine months ago, follower numbers may have served as a decent rule of thumb for comparing the relative reach of different tweeters (see Blackburn Labour’s list from April). In January 2010, however, better methods to measure influence  are available that are based on metrics such as re-tweets. These have been developed by startups like Tweetminster and communications professionals such as Edelman who have thrown not insignificant sums of money at their development and (unlike Iain Dale) don’t have an axe to grind:

Labour bloggers have been happily retweeting all evening that the next election on Twitter will be between the “Tory machine” and “Labour’s grassroots activists”. This was the way Tweetminster put it in their report, published today. Assuming that party officials, candidates and MPs are defined as the “party machine” I’d say Tweetminster have got it the wrong way round judging by these two lists. Twelve out of the Top 20 Labour tweeters are in the party machine, compared with 11 Tories.

Iain Dale blazed a trail to become the UK’s first “name” political blogger in large part by burnishing his credentials as an independent thinker: “Tory but not slavish”. The above paragraph, however, is an insult to the intelligence of his readers and a good example why many of Scrapbook’s politico friends have stopped reading him.

Below is an update of Left Foot Forward’s list, including many tweeters absent from Dale’s original numerology. The numbers in brackets are the score given by TweetLevel. Of course, if you’ve been missed off then let Scrapbook know in the comments.

1: Tom Watson (69)

2: Sarah Brown (67)

3: Grace F-H (66)**

4: Ellie Gellard (65)

4: John Prescott (65)

5: Kerry McCarthy (64)

5: Tracey Cheetham (64)

6: Alastair Campbell (63)

7: Wes Streeting (61)

8: Tim Cheetham (60)

9: Kevin Peel (59)**

9: Labour List (59)

9: Claire Spencer (59)

10: Sunny Hundal (58)

10: Tom Scholes-Fogg (58)

11: Labour Matters (56)

11: Liberal Conspiracy (56)

12: Adam Bienkov (55)

12: Tom Harris (55)

12: Political Scrapbook (55)

13: Conor Pope (54)

13: The Fabian Society (54)

13: Northern Heckler (54)

14: Sunder Katwala (53)

15: Anthony Painter (52)

15: CathElliott (52)

15: Lord Paul Drayson (52)

16: Alex Smith (51)

16: Chris Paul (51)

16: Ed Balls (51)

16: Jessica Asato (51)

16: Jim Knight (51)

16: Luke Pollard (51)

16: Adam Connell (51)

17: Tom Miller (50)

17: Co-operative Party (50)

18: Stuart Bruce (49)

18: Will Straw (49)

18: Paul Williams (49)

19: Jon Worth (48)

19: sion simon (48)

19: Left Foot Forward (48)

19: Jack Hart (48)

20: Tudor Evans (47)

20: Kevin Maguire (47)

20: Sadiq Khan (47)

21: Kerron Cross (46)

21: Ben Folley (46)

22: David Miliband (45)

22: Gemma Tumelty (45)

22: Sally Bercow (45)

A special mention should go to Labour’s first couple of Twitter. No, not Ed and Yvette but Tim (7th 8th) and Tracey (4th 5th).

Aww, how tweet!*


UPDATE II:** The original list above is now updated below to include many Labourites that were left off (and Sunny Hundal)! The statistician George Box said that “all models are wrong, but some are useful”. In this vein, a few people were the first to admit their surprise at making this list, seeming to uncover some issues with the TweetLevel metrics. But, even discarding such outliers completely, such tools nevertheless reinforce Tweetminster’s findings that the Labour grassroots take the lead in the party’s efforts online.

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  5. Again – why do you folks keep forgetting the non-Labour lefties?

    Also, I think the Edelman metric is all over the place. Doesn’t make any sense to me. At least Tweetminister measured specific things (like how many times you were re-tweeted etc etc and followers – which I now think is a crap measure).

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  18. I don’t get RT’d nearly enough! But goodness me I do a lot of RT’ing? Deserve better. Just on a boring technical question are the old school hand RT and the new Twitter RT feature treated equally in this exercise? And if the Tweetminster analysis is correct would we expect the list of active solid gold tweeters to be deeper than that of the spoilt ones?

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  21. My ‘influence’ is almost entirely based on people RTing my #REALdavefacts. I’ve waited a long time for the day when influence is based on how good ou are at making stuff up about David Cameron.

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  23. I think you are probably wasting your time with Tweetlevel. It doesn’t offer this level of precision, and I suspect over emphasises ping-pong pettiness (sorry!).

    I gave them extensive feedback 2 weeks after launch demonstrating fluctuations of up to 5-10 points within a week on a sample of a number of “top political tweeters” from both left and right.

    If you want another metric, then try Twitter Grader.

    Having said that, I’m out of penis size competitions for the next few months.

    Oh for a cosmic Bobbit to cut them all off! Twankers.

  24. @Matt Wardman: Agree on ping-pong posts skewing TweetLevel and issues with granularity.

    But even such a blunt tool can still help to show that narrow “followers = influence” falls flat on its face when other metrics are brought in, a notion that is intuitive to anyone who uses Twitter regularly anyway.

    Off with their twocks!

  25. @Chris Paul: I think the system might distinguish from mentions and actual RTs (Tweetminster does). The “RT” format has now gained the official endorsement of Twitter, so sceptical as to whether “via” and other notations are counted as RTs.

  26. I’m sure this has already been mentioned, but I think TweetLevel’s off. If it’s true, my (@ralasdair)’s TweetLevel of 50.3 should put me above Will Straw, Left Foot Forward, and David Miliband!

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