Twitter Analysis

With the election just around the corner, ICON reviewed the Twitter pages of both Dr Joseph Muscat and Dr Simon Busuttil.

Since this analysis was last updated (30th May 2017):

  • Simon Busutill’s Twitter page has 9,933 followers.
  • Joseph Muscat’s Twitter page has 47,727 followers.

At a glance, Simon Busutill has significantly fewer followers than Joseph Muscat. However, some deeper insight into readily available public data suggests that it’s not as simple as this. Discover more below.

Comparison of Followers

Interesting points to note are the relatively similar social authority (Social authority helps you find, optimise, and engage your Twitter audience. It’s a 1 to 100 point scale that measures a user’s influential content on Twitter) even though there are significant differences in both follower count and the total amount of time on Twitter. Another interesting observation is the strategy approach (or lack of) for both platforms.

Simon Busutill has ‘roughly’ 70/30 split of retweets compared to original posts (that typically contain a link). He occasionally responds directly on Twitter to any questions or direct mentions of his name. Joseph Muscat, on the other hand, does not use Twitter to communicate directly with any other user. He rarely, if ever, links outside of Twitter and over 98% of all Joseph Muscat’s posts over the last 8 years have been retweeting other sources and social updates. The remaining 2% of all of Joseph Muscat’s tweets are original status update.


  • Followers of both: 5,910
  • Unique Followers of Simon Busutill: 4,023
  • Unique Followers of Joesph Muscat: 41,817

It is interesting to note that nearly half of all Simon Busutill’s followers also follow Joseph Muscat. It is also immediately apparent that Joseph Muscat is much more active on Twitter compared to Simon Busutill. That said, the engagement level (first graph below) shows that although Joesph Muscat updates Twitter more often, the levels of engagement are quite similar regardless of the stark differences between both total tweets and the average amount of tweets per week.

Mapped locations of Followers

The maps below collect the information from the location field in Twitter accounts. The geographic location of 5,000 users is randomly sampled, taken and mapped. This is an inexact procedure and so there may be some discrepancies. However, it does give a good insight into the volume of followers and areas of the world with the most concentration of followers.

It is clear that Joseph Muscat has a larger following on Twitter, and generally has superior numbers and more reference points of mapped locations around the world. That said, it is surprising to see that Simon Busuttil has a larger volume of followers in Malta (1,818) compared to Joseph Muscat (1,005). It is evident that this is not the total amount of Maltese followers for either as the data is sampled from 5,000 users. Nevertheless, it would be expected that the sample size in Malta would have been a lot larger due to the difference in numbers following Joseph Muscat compared to Simon Busuttil.

Most Active Hours

The charts below detail both Simon Busuttil’s and Joseph Muscat’s Twitter activity. Using up to 400 of their most recent actions, the time of day they tweet can be documented.

Although both accounts see activity between 07:00 and 00:00 there are two evident strategies being used:

  • Simon Busuttil’s tweets are pushed out during the day typically between 10:00 and 13:00.
  • A peak of regular activity can be seen on Joseph Muscat’s account between 20:00 and 22:00.

There is technically no right or wrong time to post social updates, and it is truly dependent on activity and behaviours of followers. The chart below measures when users are most active on Twitter. Activity seems to remain pretty similar throughout the day and evening with a dip typically seen in the early hours.

Both Simon Busuttil and Joseph Muscat are speaking to their users when there is the most activity online. However, posting in the morning or early afternoon would suggest that further dissemination from active followers could be more successful.

Recency of Tweets

If a person hasn’t tweeted recently, then their account may be dormant. There is some margin for error to be accounted for as some of the dates may not be precise. They should still give a good indication of who is tweeting more than others. Protected accounts are excluded from this analysis.

Removing the Twitter accounts that have never tweeted or have not tweeted within the last 2 – 5 years gives a better insight of the actual impact both Simon Busuttil and Joseph Muscat are having on this channel. This is in no way discrediting these accounts, suggesting that they are fake or not used. There is no way of actually knowing, but their extended period of dormancy suggests that it is likely that they are not engaging in or seeing any content published on this platform.

  • Simon Busuttil’s Twitter page has 9,933 followers – 3,231 dormant users = 6,702 active users 
  • Joseph Muscat’s Facebook page has 47,727 followers – 19,971 dormant users = 27,756 active users

With all the above insights factored in, it can be seen that Simon Busuttil has lost about a third of his follower count compared to Joseph Muscat who has lost almost half.

Summarising the above data suggests that Joseph Muscat does have a bigger following on a global scale. This is not surprising. He has been running his Twitter account for almost 3 years longer and would be expected to have a larger following due to time, his position, and global attention as current prime minister of Malta. Similar engagement rates highlighted above suggest that both accounts are receiving similar reach and activity with their followers. There is also reason to believe, due to the map placement data, that Simon Busuttil may have marginally more local followers. A large number of mutual followers suggests that these are most likely Maltese accounts and dismisses the idea that the public will only follow one account over the other. It also indicates that it is not as simple as looking at numbers from a superficial follower count to see who has the most current support.

If you’d like to find out more about big data or social media analysis and how these can help accelerate your business get in touch with ICON today.

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