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2011 Budget Speech: Tracking the online conversation

South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan delivered his 2011 Budget Speech on Wednesday afternoon. BrandsEye, an Online Reputation Management service tracked the online conversation surrounding the speech to come up with a balanced appraisal of volumes and trending topics.

It found that 97% of the conversation came from consumers – showing significant engagement by ordinary people in their personal capacity. Considering that there was no celebrity-inspired stunt driving online conversation as was the case with President Jacob Zuma’s 2011 State of the Nation Address, this is a considerable amount of unadulterated online conversation for a single event measured over two days.

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2% of the conversation came from press-related sources, while the remaining 1% was pushed by enterprises such as accounting firm Deloitte.

67% of this conversation was exchanged on Twitter, which included 109 retweets. Facebook served as a platform for 15% of the conversation, with miscellaneous websites and blogs such as mybroadband, techcentral and marcforrest.com driving the remainder.

“Tax” was the largest trending theme with 16.8% of the budget-specific conversation, relating to the various taxation adjustments for the following budget year. The 80c increase in sin taxes per carton of cigarettes specifically, was of particular concern on the web, holding 6.5% of the conversation. Other notable influences of this topic would have included the R 8.1-billion worth of tax relief granted for the upcoming financial year.

Exchanges about the fuel levy increase and taxes on gambling winnings over R25 000 were also influential holding 9.3% and 7.3% of the conversation respectively. A further 8.3% of the conversation talked about the R800-billion set aside for infrastructural improvements without cutting the budget deficit.

The Independent Online and @BusinessLiveSA were the most engaged social media accounts, contributing 2.6% and 2.3% of the total conversation.

Other prominent individuals who were either drivers of or engaged by conversation were @stephengrootes, @khayadlanga, @Mgigaba and @DeloitteSA.

6.7% of this conversation came from respected sources with a reach of 1000 or more people. In total this conversation reached approximately 2 690 970 people, thus generating an earned media value of R609 180.75.

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