Even if you don’t regularly use social media outlets like Twitter or Facebook you will have likely heard that Scotland is in the midst of voting for or against independence from the United Kingdom.
We have seen political campaigns featured on social media sites in Barack Obama’s campaign for presidency in 2008 and then again in 2012. You can even buy a book that teaches you how to win elections using social media. The influence social media sites have on the public’s opinion is indisputable, but can Twitter really predict the outcome of Scotland’s referendum? Or any political campaign for that matter?
Currently Twitter has #Scotland and #indyref (independence referendum) trending in conversation. #VoteYesScotland and #ScotlandDecides are a couple of others featuring in tweets.
While a more conclusive analysis will be required after all of the data has been collected, we took a sample of data from over 30 million tweets collected in the past month mentioning the hashtags #Scotland, #indyref, as well as #VoteYesScotland, and analyzed social conversation about the Scottish referendum. The result was very decisive.
Our preliminary analysis shows that there is overwhelming support for Scottish independence with roughly 80% of Twitter comments using the hashtag #indyref being in favor an independent Scotland.
Since polls opened in Scotland, mentions of #indyref on Twitter jumped by 51% from approximately 250,000 to over 380,000 mentions. This was a consistent result over other topical trending hashtags like #Scotland, which received 60% more mentions on 17 September than the previous day. Today the #VoteYesScotland hashtag rose 367% from around 2,500 mentions yesterday to over 11,990 at last count.So has conversation on Twitter predicted the independence of Scotland? If vocal social media users have any sway, they have, but as with any election we will have to wait until they tally the votes to see how influential Twitter users are in predicting the result.