The momentum of support organized by 350.org that culminated last Saturday with 4,300 events provides a great example of not just mobilizing support, but of expanding the voices in support of an issue.
An analysis of the citation histories of English language bloggers focused on energy issues, shows that 350.org surpassed the reach of the traditional environmental advocacy organizations over the two months before their day of action.
Environmental groups, like most traditional advocacy organizations, are best at mobilizing their known supporters and communicating with the existing political channels. However, as the charts below illustrate, these organizations – unlike 350.org – have not had the reach into new audiences such as green parents and green tech.
Our research on the relationships, sources and language of these new audiences has found that they tend to be less political and more focused on their personal contribution to climate change (more focused on “carbon footprint” then the environmentalists who are more focused on “carbon capture”).
350.org, which focuses on building a movement around climate change and setting a specific goal for climate change negotiations, successfully reached an audience outside of the traditional political dialogue.
In looking at the recent coverage on the health care debate about the “public option” and with the NYT reporting that “some prominent scientists and economists focusing on climate policy said the 350 target was so unrealistic that the campaign risked not being taken seriously,” one has to wonder if the way to be taken seriously outside the political bubble is to be shunned by the experts pointing out what is realistic.
As House Democrats move forward with their version of health care legislation that includes the public option, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at how the various messages and terms used in the online debate have evolved over the last few months.
Despite the lack of clarity of what is contained within the “public option,” public option advocates appear to have regained control over defining the terms of the debate.
An analysis of the terms used by the bloggers at the center of the health care debate (see Morningside’s recent social network analysis on health care policy ) shows that attempts to rebrand the public option as “rationing,” a “government takeover,” or “socialized medicine” have lost steam after peaking in August.
While use of the term “public option” has also decreased since August, it has dominated the overall health care debate since June.
The only health care related term (with the exception of terms to broad to have meaning such as “health care reform”) that was used by bloggers that exceeded “public option” in a given week was “death panel,” which peeked in early August.
Last week, I outlined the differences between the structure of the network of bloggers discussing health care policy and those discussing energy policy.
The following maps showing the positioning of organizations within the network of bloggers focused on energy policy provides an interesting contrast to the maps included in last night's post on health policy.
While the quantity of social media tools used provides some insight into an organization’s embrace of social media, an examination of links to these organizations from the bloggers at the center of the online policy debates provides a measurement of the impact of such activity.
To provide such an analysis, we compared the ten organizations that are using the most social media tools with the top 4000 sources used by the bloggers in Morningside's recent health and energy policy research.
While the sources most used by bloggers are media outlets (both traditional and new media), advocacy organizations are cited particularly within discussions on policy issues.
Compared to the other organizations that were included in the social media tools study, the Sierra Club (the organization that used the most social media tools - ten ), was also the organization that was most cited as a source from the blogs most focused on energy policy.
Looking at the same organizations, SEIU (second in the social media tools study using nine social media tools), was the organization that was most cited as a source within the blogs focused on health policy.
However, after the Sierra Club and SEIU the correlations between tools used and links trail off. Two of the four organizations that used eight social media tools and three of the four of the organizations that used seven were not within the top sources used by bloggers discussing energy or health policy.
In looking at the top sources used by both bloggers focused on health or energy policy, several large DC organizations that were not part of the social media tools study (including the Center for American Progress, the ACLU, the Heritage Foundation and the CATO Institute) far outpaced any of the groups that were in that study. A look at the social media tools used by these organizations might provide some additional insights.
All that being said, a specific organization’s social media impact can only be measured in relation to its own goals. While some organizations engage with social media to mobilize their base, others are trying to expand support for their issues.
The following maps document the footprint that some of these organizations are having on the network of bloggers focused on health policy. Depending on these organization’s own goals the maps could be showing social media success or social media failure.
Coincidentally, I was reading Henry’s post after I had been looking at the distribution of blogs that are part of the Blogads advertising network on the health and energy policy network maps that we released last week.
With concentrations in the center of the attentive clusters focused on energy and health policy, many of the blogs utilizing Blogads are well positioned to move the discussion on these issues.
Targeting advertising on blogs in the center of these networks is a clear path to impact the related discussions.
As with most public policy issues, the online discussions around health care and energy reform are dominated by core groups of opposing political views. However, a closer look at the structure of the network of bloggers writing on these two issues presents a very different story.
Over the next few weeks, we will be presenting some of the key findings of Morningside Analytics comparative look at the structure of the networks of bloggers that are the center of the policy debates on these two issues.
The network maps below were created through identifying the English language blogs that were the most focused on each of these issues. Each dot represents a single blog, which is then plotted on the map based on its interlinking behavior with the other blogs. The larger the dot the more blogs are linking to it. The labels and colors identify the Attentive Clusters - groups of blogs that link to similar things.
As anyone who witnessed a town hall meeting on health care might have guessed, the center of the health care map is relatively weak with concentrations on the left and right and with medical/science bloggers far from the political ones.
The energy map extends deeper beyond the political bloggers to include not just clusters of environmental and green tech blogs, but also includes bloggers who are focused on pop culture.