About

Dr. Tristan Hotham is a researcher, consultant and writer. His expertise lies within social media and politics, platform governance and digital campaigning. Tristan researches digital campaigns, writes upon digital media’s impacts and consults how to effectively research social media. As the Founder of the Social Media Research Centre, a research house that seeks to make social media research better, he has a passion to open up digital research to as many as possible. Tristan currently works as a policy advisor in the field of big tech regulation.

Hi I am Tristan Hotham, I’m an expert in social media platforms, from TikTok to Facebook and from Twitter to Discord, I have extensive experience studying and understanding what now defines politics in the social media age. I have a wide base of knowledge developed from examining social media phenomena including; elections, audiences, interactions, news content, communications flow, engagement, big tech policy, social media regulation, content approaches, party politics and campaigning. I utilise a combination of quantitative and qualitative methodologies to examine the black box of social media. In my opinion mixed-methods research is the most capable approach for understanding opaque and complex social media, as quantitative and qualitative research’s limited horizons can be extended by symbiotic application.

I hold an ESRC funded PhD at the University of Bath – my thesis is entitled; “How do political parties use Facebook and what does it offer to their campaigns?. The work examines the Facebook phenomenon and its role as a campaign tool in UK politics. It questioned the impact Facebook is having as a campaign tool online, alongside its wider implications for parties campaigning in an era of party change. The work developed its own theory of social media campaigning, charting the engagement parties achieved, the content approaches they used to influence us and the latent trends we see in digital election campaigns. My latest preprint can be accessed here, it is a study of Facebook satellite campaigning by Labour group Momentum. Alongside a PhD, I also hold two Master’s degrees from the Universities of Bath and Durham, alongside a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Exeter.

I have also worked as a research consultant for Whotargets.me, which gave me new skills in dissemination and media outreach. My research for the group was featured on Sky News, Reuters, Evening Standard, Observer and even was talked about on the Andrew Marr Show.

This wide range of experiences as well as the struggles of studying social media led me to found the Social Media Research Centre, a research house focused on making social media research better. The SMRC has advised and researched for a growing selection of charities, think tanks and businesses.

I am currently advising the UK government through work as a policy advisor specialising in how we can effectively regulate big tech while maximising economic growth and limiting harms.

I or my work has been featured in media such as the BBC, Telegraph, New Statesman, Financial Times and The Economist.


I also create videos for the public, you can watch them over on my YouTube channel. If you are interested in social media’s impact on the world and how to examine digital platforms you should also check out the Social Media Research Centre’s YouTube channel, alongside the Centre’s Social Media? Meet Politics podcast.

If you would like to connect please contact me or reach me via LinkedIn or Twitter.



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My latest blog posts

Innovation via desperation – Twitter Fleets

Twitter Fleets are not necessary, nobody on the network was calling for them, and their implementation shows that Twitter has more interest in following the crowd than genuinely innovating. Instead, what we now have is social networks innovating from a position of desperation, focused on ‘keeping up with the Joneses’.


© Tristan Hotham, 2021