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Post busters – the return of Facebook data

Facebook preserves for post-erity

Facebook preserves for post-erity

We know which election candidates are winning the “beauty contest” of Facebook Likes, so today I thought I’d take a look at their posts.

Facebook page posts are easy ways of spreading information, sparking a debate or just reminding people who you are.

I’ve had a couple of candidates contact me to point out they have Facebook “pages” – only for them to discover they have a profile. Here’s how to tell the difference: if your “page” has Friends, it’s a profile. If it has Likes, it’s a page.

There’s a big difference – I don’t want to friend candidates, but I’ll like their pages so I still get their posts in my timeline without having to see their whiskey antics or children’s first day at school photos!

That said, if a candidate does have a Facebook page, do they actually make use of it?

Posts Apocalypse

These are the top 10 posters according to the total number of posts on their page:

  1. Chris Thomas (Douglas Central): 726 (approx)
  2. Cat Turner (Douglas East): 296
  3. Ray Harmer (Glenfaba and Peel): 113
  4. Mark Kemp (Rushen): 90
  5. Rob Callister (Onchan): 78
  6. Ralph Peake (Douglas North): 60
  7. Clare Bettison (Douglas East): 59
  8. Anthony Allen (Onchan) / Lynne Sirdefield (Douglas North): 58
  9. Pat Ayres (Ayre & Michael): 55
  10. Tim Baker (Ayre & Michael): 52

And the bottom 10:

  1. David Fowler (Douglas South): 2
  2. Alan Kermode (Ayre & Michael): 3
  3. Leslie Hanson (Glenfaba & Peel): 6
  4. William Bowers (Middle) / Karen Angela (Douglas North): 9
  5. Alf Cannan (Ayre & Michael): 11
  6. Carl Parker (Arbory, Castletown & Malew): 12
  7. Daphne Caine (Garff): 14
  8. John McDonough (Ramsey) / David Ashford (Douglas North): 15
  9. Jason Moorhouse (Arbory, Castletown & Malew): 16
  10. Paul Craine (Middle): 17

It’s worth noting again that for Chris Thomas, a post count proved impossible to do manually as there are simply too many posts to scroll through before my browser crashes. I took an average of four sample months and used that to calculate an estimated total number of posts over the years his page has been running.

And don’t forget these were counted in the early hours of Thursday morning. Some candidates are equal or closely packed together, so the situation may have changed since then if they’ve posted just a single update.

I ain’t afraid of no posts

But wait. Some candidates have been running pages for years, while some only set theirs up this month. You’d expect a higher post tally from an early bird than from a Juan-come-lately.

So, on average, how many updates per month does a candidate post? My figures give 7.9, roughly two a week.

And how do candidates stand? Here are the top 10 most prolific posters by posts per month:

  1. Mark Kemp (Rushen): 22.5
  2. Cat Turner (Douglas East): 21.1
  3. Rob Callister (Onchan): 19.5
  4. Tim Baker (Ayre & Michael): 17.3
  5. Jason Moorhouse (Arbory, Castletown & Malew): 16.0
  6. Lynne Sirdefield (Douglas North): 14.5
  7. Daphne Caine (Garff): 14.0
  8. Nick Crowe (Ramsey): 12.5
  9. Chris Thomas (Douglas Central) / Michelle Inglis (Douglas Central): 11.7
  10. Richard McAleer (Arbory, Castletown & Malew): 11.3

And if you’re fascinated by league tables, here’s the reverse – the 10 candidates with the fewest posts per month:

  1. David Fowler (Douglas South): 0.5
  2. Alan Kermode (Ayre & Michael) / Keith Fitton (Douglas South): 1.5
  3. John McBride (Douglas East): 2.2
  4. Leslie Hanson (Glenfaba & Peel): 3.0
  5. Richard Falk (Douglas Central): 3.1
  6. Ralph Peake (Douglas North): 3.3
  7. Alf Cannan (Ayre & Michael): 3.6
  8. Pat Ayres (Ayre & Michael): 3.9
  9. Carl Parker (Arbory, Castletown & Malew): 4.0
  10. Paul Craine (Middle): 4.3

First past the posts

Why collect all of this data together like this?

Well, it’ll be interesting to see if there’s any sort of correlation between social media use and results come next week’s general election.

I’m in no way sure you could ever suggest there’s a causality involved – it’s impossible to say someone’s use of Facebook won the seat. There are simply too many factors to take into consideration. The Isle of Man has notoriously clannish voters who stick with a candidate simply because they’re well-known. And not going out knocking on doors is considered a cardinal electoral sin.

It’s also difficult to draw any conclusion from Likes – are people liking a page because it’s entertaining, because it’s interesting, because they’re family and friends or because that’s their voting intention? Again, it’s impossible to say.

But once the results are in, it’ll be interesting to see, for example, whether those who lose out either ignored or under-utilised Facebook. After all, almost 80 per cent of adults have an account.

We’ll have to wait and see.

In my next post, I’ll take a look at how long people have been running their pages – and see how well their posts attract Likes.

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