Retweeting as a means of taking part in a wider conversation

The European Commission’s EMPL presence on Twitter in 2012: Retweets

A retweet (RT) is a powerful Twitter function that enables republishing another user’s message on the Twitter platform. A RT is mainly associated to the multiplying effect that is generated when reposting another user’s tweets.

A statistics on RTs is an important engagement parameter to consider when establishing information multipliers on Twitter when answering the question of this research project. Statistics on how many RTs, their authors, profiles and locations are also discussed in relation to engagement in the next articles.

The retweeters (RTers), the users who showed an interest in some of the tweets published by Social Europe, EURes and Commissioner Andor, reposted a number of tweets on the platform.

RTs and their occurrences

  • 64% of the Social Europe’s tweets were retweeted at an occurrence rate of 157%.
  • 64% of the EURes’s tweets were retweeted at an occurrence rate of 453%.
  • 71% of the Commissioner Andor’s tweets were retweeted at an occurrence rate of 396%.
  • 66% of all tweets were retweeted at an occurrence rate of 302% (Figure 1)
Figure 1: RTs and occurrences

Figure 1: RTs and occurrences

The retweeting rate of 2/3 of the entire tweet volume of the three account holders indicates a high interest of the followers to redistribute content.

Categories of retweeters

The information on RTers was coded and grouped into six categories, according to their Twitter profiles:

  1. EU bodies and staff: European Commission, EU Delegations to non-EU countries, European Commission Departments (Directorates-General), European Commission Representations in the Member States, other EU bodies, Europe Direct Centres in the Member States, EU staff, EU Commissioners.
  2. Academia: universities, researchers, teachers, students.
  3. Experts: graduates, lawyers, project managers, Chief executive officers (CEOs), consultants, advisers, Non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
  4. International bodies: organisations, others than EU bodies.
  5. National bodies: national agencies, ministries, other national, regional and local structures.
  6. Public figures: journalists, bloggers, activists, writers, artists, politicians, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and opinion leaders.

In case a RTer had a multi-profile, that is more than one job listed in the profile, the first was considered. Usually people introduce themselves on Twitter with their main job and occasionally list their second job and/or hobbies.

Retweet occurrences by category of retweeters

The statistics of “RT occurrences by category of RTers” (Figure 2) indicate that more than a half of occurrences were generated by experts (55%), followed by national bodies (13%) and EU bodies and staff (13%). The other categories follow, with International bodies in last position where few occurrences were generated (1%)

Figure 2: RT Occurrences by category of retweeters

Figure 2: RT Occurrences by category of retweeters

The group of experts were the most interested in redistributing the content of the three account holders while EU bodies and staff contributed to redistributing this content either by helping with the content promotion or by being involved in the production of the content (policies, events, publications etc.). The remaining categories of retweeters expressed some interest in redistributing the content for the following reasons: tailoring content to suit their audiences (international and national bodies, public figures) or for research purposes, when involving academic key figures in national and European events (keynote speakers, contributing researchers to a number of studies etc.).

Number of RTs by country

With their Twitter communications in 2012, the three account holders benefited from being retweeted by other users from almost all EU countries and outside.

Top 3 RT Statistics all accounts

Table 1: Top 3 RT statistics all accounts

Table 1: Top 3 RT statistics all accounts

The tweets contained in Table 1 were the most popular in 2012. They related to certain events and policy outcomes. These are as follows:

1) Social Europe with the European Year 2012 for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations (EY2012), Youth Employment Chat, Poverty Convention, and the European Health Insurance Card, one of the most popular policy outcomes, an application for smartphones;

2) EURes with European Jobs Day (EJD) related information;

3) Commissioner Andor with policy related information and Youth Employment Package.

More information on my research project


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