The social graph you see below is a representation of Twitter posts that contain the hashtags #OccupyTheDream or #OccupyCongress. Each dot is a post on Twitter made on January 14 or 15, and two posts are tied if one poster retweets or mentions the other. Communications about Occupy the Dream (a January 16 national protest tied to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) and Occupy Congress (a January 17 national protest on Capitol Hill).
As you can see from this graph, which clusters posters into groups that communicate heavily with one another, there’s a lot of talk about these Occupy protests. Over these two days 1,344 Twitter accounts used the hashtags for communications, making 2,824 retweets and mentions of one another, with 109 Twitter accounts posting about both of the events. Posts about both events are present for all of the largest groups, showing their connection despite different organizers. The ten most central posters are movement accounts: occupywallstnyc, re_occupy, oakfosho, blogdiva, sickjew, road2congress, unclerush, coffeepartyusa, favstar_pop, and globalrevlive. None of these accounts represent mainstream media.
In contrast, let’s consider Twitter posts over the same period — January 14 and January 15 — regarding Americans Elect:
Despite the fact that Americans Elect has a multimillion-dollar promotions budget, while Occupy Congress has raised just $2,760.00 to date, people just aren’t talking as much about Americans Elect over the social media channel Twitter. 144 Twitter posts about Americans Elect appeared over the two days, just a bit more than a tenth of the traffic regarding the two Occupy protests, and only 80 posts communicated to other accounts. In December 2012, most of the Twitter chatter about Americans Elect was in reaction to mainstream media or Americans Elect’s own Twitter account. But by January 14 and 15, few interactions with the Americans Elect Twitter account were apparent (see the big question mark). The seven other communication subgroups talking about Americans Elect were doing so critically, or even with taunts (see Dave Weigel’s prediction: “Americans Elect to start wailing for Huntsman run in 3, 2…”). The only content-neutral subgroup was one featuring suggestions that New England Patriots coach Bill Belichik run for President under the Americans Elect banner.
Bottom line: today’s Occupy the Dream and tomorrow’s Occupy Congress protests have attracted big but decentralized grassroots activity. By contrast, Americans Elect isn’t in control of its social media message any more, and in the opinion of Twitter posters appears to have jumped the shark. At least online, earnest interest trumps infusion of big money.