We all know that Australians love sport, but over the past couple of years Twitter has teased out another facet of our society: an affinity for political debate. This is largely expressed through the popularity of the #AusPol hashtag.
#AusPol is unique for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it has a permanent presence on the Twittersphere. There isn’t a tag quite like it in the US and the UK; politically-motivated Twitter hashtags live a rather short life abroad. Much like our recent ‘#ThreeWordBudget’ tag, they’re often tied to an event, reach a peak on terms of usage, and then die off.
Secondly, and as first indicated by research from QUT in 2012, the majority of the these tweets are generated by a small percentage of Twitter users. But given that some of the most followed Australian personalities on Twitter are federal politicians and political commentators, one can’t help but think that Twitter has teased out political discourse in Australia.
So, if you want to get noticed on Twitter, tweet about politics and use #AusPol. Well, at least until a major sporting event is on.
There’s a reason why both Twitter and Facebook have been brokering digital deals with Australia’s major sporting codes: significant sports events result in social media traffic skyrocketing. Look what happens when Australia took on the Netherlands in the World Cup earlier this week:
You could argue that those tweets may have been generated by the residents in the Netherlands, or any other World Cup fan. So, let’s look at a more acute example: the State of Origin game earlier this week.
Keep in mind that as per QUT social media researcher, Axel Bruns, the average Twitter user is aged between 25 and 30, educated and relatively affluent.
But based on this data, it's clear that the social network at least reflects Australia’s priorities.
Got a question? Let us know in the comments below or contact the reporter @HarrisonPolites on Twitter.