As the 2014 Alberta budget was presented and tabled in the Alberta Legislature on the afternoon of March 6, politicians, media and armchair pundits alike took to Twitter to express their views on the key issues contained within.
Our Alberta public affairs team had their pulse on the Twitter conversation throughout the week and the metrics showed that the virtual play-by-play effectively mirrored the conversations taking place in the legislature and elsewhere.
“The political Twitterati in Alberta are highly engaged and sometimes are focused on conversations that are not on the lips of the general public,” says Catherine Keill, senior account director and our Alberta public affairs group lead. “This week, it appears the conversation on Twitter reflected the topics of conversation being discussed in hockey locker rooms and  coffee shops, newspapers and board rooms.”
The chart below shows how the #ABbudget conversation on Twitter evolved pre- and post-budget. Our methodology was simple: track all tweets that contained a combination of one budget buzz word (education, energy, expenses, health, post-secondary) and at least one key hashtag (#ABleg, #ABpoli, #ABbudget). During the early part of the week, education and health loomed large as many pondered what impact the budget would have in these areas. However, by midday Tuesday, expenses dominated the conversation as Premier Alison Redford came under scrutiny for travel expenses related to her trip to South Africa for Nelson Mandela’s memorial. However, the conversation volleyed back to education and specifically post-secondary schooling as a commitment to 50 new schools and 2,000 new post-secondary spaces was announced as part of the budget on Thursday afternoon.
Interestingly, the health and energy conversations on Twitter were fairly quiet overall during the week although we surmise that if we drilled down (pun intended) with other terms such as oil, the conversation flow would have been quite different. In addition, while Twitter buzz surrounding the Edmonton LRT was not tracked specifically, it was a hot topic amid Edmonton-specific handles, particularly following the Mayor’s State of the City address on Wednesday of this week.
Click on the thumbnail below to see a full graph that shows the conversation flow of our five #ABbudget buzz words during the past week: