Analyzing the Twitter Activity of DE Candidates: Election 2016

Analyzing the Twitter Activity of DE Candidates: Election 2016

His husky early morning voice pierced the crisp, silent air. I tried to ignore his alert presence and deep thinking sigh by pulling the sheets up to my ears and rolling to the edge of the bed. No such luck. He was wide eyed and deep in thought, and we both knew it. “Are you going for a run?” I asked. He replied, “Nope. it’s 4AM.” WHAT?! This is about the time I donkey kicked him to the floor and commenced feathering my sheet nest. Just kidding. I love his ideas, even if they bubble up and wake us both before dawn.

“I’m going to write code to pull Twitter mentions of the DE candidates for governor.  What do you think?!” he blurted in his mad data-scientist tone. I whispered, “Awesome. Let’s do it. Once the sun’s up.” [followed by immediate snores]

Let’s start with the basics. Who is running for Governor of Delaware? The republican candidate is Colin Bonini, a Delaware State Senator. The democrat candidate is John Carney, U.S. Representative. Along with the rest of the General Election candidates, these two are listed on the State of Delaware website.  We wanted to learn more about these two and where better to get the nitty gritty on their policies, plans and positions than their websites social media. ICYMI social media has played an unprecedented role in the political happenings of 2016. From the obvious impact on the Presidential race all the way through local elections, Twitter & Facebook are informing, inciting and engaging  voters throughout the country. Just take a look at some stats from The Pew Research Center…

screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-10-34-10-amDespite the resounding feeling of “enough is enough” when we stream through endless political content on our newsfeeds, the impact of social networks on our election news consumption is undeniable. And the topic is relatively bipartisan as illustrated here. Republicans and Democrats alike are following political figures on social media.

screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-10-33-21-amThis chart is all about engagement. 79% of social media users feel that it helps them get involved with issues that matter to them to some degree. Not to mention, finding out what candidates are really like. Politicians are able to connect more directly with their supporters because of social media (well, if they’re doing it right).

pi_2016-10-25_politics-and-social-media_3-01 How many of you have used this election season to thin out your social media community? Just as we tend to narrow our news station selection, our political leanings and social media behavior curate what’s being put in front of us every day. This is a double edged sword. It is helpful to like, share and engage with content the resonates with our way of thinking, but how narrow is too narrow when it comes to political content?


Considering it’s apparent that many social media users look forward to engaging with political leaders, let’s talk about how those leaders are using that information. We’ve all seen the Twitter Wars between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Did you follow the debate hashtag during any of the 3 debates? Whew! Talk about multi-tasking. Candidates used social to virtually screen capture and fossilize every real time moment that benefitted their campaign. We saw campaign strategists reiterate these moments in the form of quote images, video clips and the like to impress upon the masses their message. This might leave you wondering how your local election candidates are behaving on social media…


Senator Colin Bonini: @ColinBonini
682 followers | 413 tweets | 81 following
Common Hashtag: #ColinforChange

Typically Senator Bonini’s tweets consist of shares from his Facebook account. An issue with this style of tweet is that Senator Bonini’s statements are consistently cut off as they do not fall into the 140 character limit. A common problem when cross sharing from other social networks. Two things we noticed about his voice is that his tweets are written in third person, and he relies on direct calls to action.

He even mentioned his opponent, unfortunately he did not tag John Carney’s Twitter account leaving much to be desired from that interaction.


What are the results of this Twitter behavior?

Activity increased as election approached.
Activity increased as election approached.


Rarely a retweet.
Bonini’s tweets consists of generally positive content.


Most commonly used words in tweets. Notice “please”. As mentioned, Bonini frequently uses TW to give a direct call to action.


  1. Drop third person voice. It detracts from the sense of connection with an audience.
  2. Follow more accounts: other politicians, industry leaders and constituents.
  3. Create content distinct to each network. Use a tool like Buffer to schedule and share content across networks without cutting off message.
  4. Share 3rd party content…content that is valuable to your audience but not directly from you. RETWEET.
  5. Use the “@” to tag accounts being mentioned in tweets. This assures they see they have been mentioned, and encourages a conversation…leading to ENGAGEMENT.

Representative John Carney: @JohnCarneyDE
10.9K followers | 1,567 tweets | 1,102 following
Common Hashtag: #NetDe

Representative Carney uses Twitter to document behind-the-scenes moments of events and to make announcements. He frequently tags other accounts (mostly of other political leaders). There is an inconsistency with frequency of tweets. He is active during political events, but then activity tapers drastically. This can be problematic when trying to maintain an existing audience. He achieves significant engagement when he shares current/trending content.


Rep. Carney relies on visual content. Sharing photos and videos that have an impact, but again loosing ground with consistency.

What are the results of Carney’s Twitter behavior?

We included previous year bc of the dramatic change in activity since he opened his account.
Retweeting is such a powerful 3rd party content curation tool that neither candidate takes advantage of.
Also generally positive analysis of his tweet content.
#netDE is a powerful & popular hashtag on Twitter. Carney is able to connect with DE leaders & community members through his use of this.


  1. Get more consistent. Carney’s number of followers feels significant, but is he engaging them?
  2. Follow more accounts. The follow button is often overlooked. For successful engagement, leaders should be following nearly as often as they are followed. This shows good faith and a general interest in their supporters.
  3. RETWEET. Both candidates retweet infrequently. This lack of 3rd part content sharing makes their accounts feel more like a landing page than a place for conversation and connection.
  4. Use a scheduler. This is going to sound repetitive and like we work for Buffer…but seriously. In this day and age there is absolutely no reason to be sharing from a professional social media account without the use of a post scheduler. This is where you find consistency. And consistency equals engagement. Bonus, having some content laid our allows for spontaneous posting and conversation with followers.

Both candidates could improve consistency and strategy in order to engage their current followers and excite new ones. Delaware is under represented in the realm of social media and the political conversation. It may be too little too late for the current election as the Pew Research Center illustrates, many social media users feel overwhelmed by political content at this point in the election process.


However, Twitter alone touts 310 MILLION monthly users. ( Social media will not cease to function after November 8th. Why not be the voice that continues after? How refreshing would that be? A politician who remains active and engaged with their audience when not amidst a race for their position…

Lastly, empower yourself with knowledge of your local candidates for every office on the ticket.  Wake up November 8th, pour a tall coffee, grab the kids, go to your polling place and VOTE.

and then DANCE cause you just performed your civic duty!
and then DANCE cause you just performed your civic duty!

What do YOU think? Do you wish Delaware leaders were more active on social media? What type of social network behavior do you look for from politicians?

Wondering who wrote this? Check us out.

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