Can broadcasting companies lay a claim on Twitter followers of their personalities?

Ashraf Garda interviewed Anele Mdoda on #[email protected] in March. Anele was at the time seeing off her contract at 5FM, and she was getting ready to (re)join 94.7. One of Ashraf’s questions to her was whether she grew her Twitter profile mainly because of her being a 5FM broadcaster, which in essence would mean the radio station can lay claim on her following at the time she leaves at the end of March? As can be expected, Anele’s response was that she grew her following in her own right and not because of 5FM. Her contention, as a result, was that 5FM cannot lay claim on her Twitter followers.

Ashraf’s question above, and Anele’s response to it, made me conclude that the SABC does not have a social media policy in place, which would have clarified the issue. If my conclusion is correct, then it must be a big concern that Mzansi’s public broadcasting company has not addressed such a key aspect that forms an integral part of its business operations, unlike CNN and BBC have done.

I also wondered if there is any way 5FM can prove Anele gained Twitter followers directly as a result of her employment, despite the obvious lack of social media policy. I checked my social analytics toolkit, and found that Xefer and TweetStats provide some clues, as shown below.

Xefer: Analysis of Anele Mdoda’s Tweeting Activity

Notice in the graph above that Xefer analyzed all Anele’s +45 000 tweets as at the 8th of April 2012, in order to show typical days and times when she was tweeting, retweeting and replying. Bear in mind that Anele’s 5FM show was on weekdays between 12 pm and 3pm.

Here are 2 keys insights that provide clues:

  • Anele’s tweeting days are mainly Monday, Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday – as shown by GREY bars on Y-Axis. A slight difference is that she retweets mainly on Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday – see GREEN bars on the same axis.
  • Her tweeting times are 8 and 12 at night, as shown by GREY bars on the X-Axis. However, she retweets mainly during 12 and 2 in the afternoon.

The two insights above can be used to raise a question whether Anele’s retweeting activity, which appears to be during her show when on weekdays, is directly attributable to her being on air and thus being in conversations with her listeners.

While Xefer does not provide conclusive proof that Anele’s tweeting activity was directly related to her job at the station, 5Fm can use TweetStats to perform 2 additional types of tweet activity analysis, based on sample tweet data, to determine strength of its case:

  • Word frequency analysis:
TweetStats: Anele's Word Frequency Analysis
TweetStats: Anele’s Word Frequency Analysis
  • Other Twitterers being retweeted/replied to:
Anele’s Retweeting/Replying Activity

Retweeting and replying activity indicates that Anele was in conversations with other media personalities, including @SizweDhlomo, @PoppyIsMyName and @DJFreshSA.

Results of this second part of analysis indicate that Anele was using her Twitter for both work and personal reasons. Establishing the skew is not clear-cut based on the social analytics tools used in this post, which was not the purpose after all.

Based on the above initial desk-top analysis, 5Fm can determine whether provided clues help to establish the making of a case that Anele’s Twitter profile benefited directly or indirectly because of her employment at the station. However, there would be a need to do a more detailed analysis to strengthen this case, before the station can take such a claim to the next level.

PLEASE NOTE: The tools referred to in this post are to be used strictly to give indicative results in a case of the same or similar nature. Such tools are not sufficient on their own to form a solid basis for the purpose for which they were applied in this post.

In my follow-up post, I discuss why ALL companies must have a social media policy in place.


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