Notes on Scandal Part 1 – Impact (on online search and Twitter)

News of the WorldFollowing on from our recent article Notes on a (Phone Hacking) Scandal: an online series, we have analysed the online impact of the News of the World scandal looking at the impact on online search behaviour and Twitter using Google Trends and Topsy Analytics. See our Footnotes: Methodology for more information on how we applied these tools to this ongoing saga.

Figures 1 and 2 feature the “buzz” around the main story
Figures 3 and 4 feature the “buzz” around the main protagonists

Figure 1: The Impact of the ‘Searched’ Story (Google Trends, 18.07.11)

  • The search term “News of the World” is the most searched term in relation to this story. “News Corp” and “News International” each account for only 5% of the search volume.
  • “News of the World” has weekly peaks in traffic on the 26th of June and the 3rd of July (coinciding with weekly issues of the newspaper) but from the 4th of July there has been a steady rise in search ‘interest’
  • Search traffic rises sharply on two occasions between the 4th and 10th of July
  • Peaks appear to coincide with this story unfolding through traditional media

Figure 2: Twitter Impact of the Story (Topsy Analytics, 18.07.11)

  • “News of the World” attracts between 80,000 and 100,000 twitter mentions during the peaks in activity on Twitter: 7th and 12th of July.
  • The “News of the World” graph appears largely the same shape as the “search” graph in Figure 1, albeit the timing of the peaks are out-of-sync
  • “News international” appears to have a similar shaped buzz graph to “News of the World” on Twitter (and ‘in-touch’ in terms of volume mentions) this is not reflected in Google Trends

Figure 3: Impact in terms of ‘Searched’ Protagonists (Google Trends, 18.07.11)

  • “Rebekah Brooks” is searched in similar volumes to “Rupert Murdoch”
  • Whereas “Rupert Murdoch” has a “search” graph steadily increasingly over time, “Rebekah Brooks” has a graph that is more erratic in nature, with large peaks and troughs.
  • “James Murdoch” has a steady level of search interest but “Andy Coulson” is searched almost exclusively between the 6th and 8th of July.
  • “James Murdoch” and “Andy Coulson” attract a smaller proportion of searches (15% and 5% of the search volume of “Rupert Murdoch” or “Rebekah Brooks”, respectively).
  • From a search perspective “Rupert Murdoch” and “Rebekah Brooks” appear to be of more interest to those searching this story.

Figure 4 Twitter Impact of the Protagonists (Topsy Analytics, 18.07.11)

  • There is more interest for “Rebekah Brooks” than for Rupert Murdoch on Twitter (a difference not seen in Google Trends results).
  • “Andy Coulson” also appears more pronounced on Twitter than in Google Trends, achieving similar levels of tweets as Rupert Murdoch around the 7th of July
  • We notice that Twitter interest for all protagonists appears to be falling on the 18th July (at time of writing).

Final remarks

When in the eye of a media storm, media monitoring tools help us get above the clouds.

  • There appears to be a connection between online interest in this story and the events as they unfold through traditional media
  • Media monitoring tools such as Google Trends and Topsy Analytics provide comparable “buzz graphs” (peaks and troughs) for the main story and the main protagonists.
  • The results indicate the changing focus of the story as it unfolds; from 4th July the story increasingly centres around Rupert Murdoch but also involves other protagonists at key times.
  • “Rebekah Brooks” and “Andy Coulson” in particular have very high levels of buzz (search interest and Twitter mentions) at key times.
  • There is some difference in the impact between search interest and twitter mentions; “Rebekah Brooks”, “News International” and “Andy Coulson” all appear to have more interest on Twitter relative to Google Trends.
  • A closer view of the events influencing the peaks across both platforms is required (and is the basis of the next post in this series).

Stay tuned for the next instalment of Notes on a Scandal which will look at the Events which influence the buzz – as the story plays out on Search and Twitter.

We look forward to your comments.

Alan, Jim and Vincent

Footnotes: Methodology

(a) We have applied both tools to this scandal through creating a graph involving the main story search term “news of the world” and incorporating other relevant benchmarks. We have then compared the main protagonists in this story in terms of searches made and mentions on Twitter. We set Google Trends to provide a view over 30 days (although you can set the time period longer if needed). Topsy Analytics was set to provide results over a two-week period.

(b) Google Trends is a useful tool in understanding what internet users are searching on over a period of time. The results are based on a sample of searches rather than all searches which means it lends itself to high volume traffic. Although Google point out that it might be unwise to base your PhD on the results from Google Trends, we think it offers valuable insight all the same.

(c) Topsy Analytics provides a high level view of the number of mentions on Twitter for a search term. We inserted three search terms to get a comparative view of the results.

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About Alan Stevenson

Over the last fifteen years I have split my time almost equally between Developing Digital strategies for public and private sector clients and helping organisations visualise, specify, plan and optimise technology-based solutions within their organisation.
This entry was posted in Energise, NOTW, Social Media Monitoring and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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