Social media monitoring and visualisation tools can be a source of ideas to improve inclusivity in policy development beyond traditional influencers. The aim of this project is to develop both practical insights and an academic case study of how social media data, particularly from Twitter, are shaping new modes of governance in the digital economy.
The report describes a pilot application of social media analysis and visualisation in the area of food and farming regulation. The study involved two main tasks: (1) an online data collection and analysis exercise to map farming and agricultural networks on Twitter and (2) a series of interviews and workshops to examine key challenges and information requirements related to the use of social media data. The research was carried out with the support of a partner organisation, the Better Regulation Team of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). The online data collection exercise was based on Chorus (chorusanalytics.co.uk), which is a social media analytics tool designed to support social science research. Drawing from this case study, the report discusses key challenges for government departments and other public sector organisations in the process of adopting similar tools.
The project team gratefully acknowledges interview and workshop participants from DEFRA. We are particularly thankful to Jenny Buckland, Dawn Woodward, Lorraine Horwood and Michelle Charlton for providing all the necessary support for the project to take place. We further acknowledge the kind support of Edward Morgan, Charles Tassell, Jez Fredenburgh and Simon Haley, farming entrepreneurs and founders of AgriChatUK; a national Twitter conversation about farming that has been the starting point of our analysis. We are additionally thankful to Simon Haley for sharing earlier academic work on digital agricultural networks (Haley, 2013).