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 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.
Also why not join my mailing list for my newsletter?
My latest blog posts
New working paper: What does a satellite campaign do? The use of Momentum in Labour’s 2017 General Election Facebook campaign
Satellite campaigns have been discussed as core parts of parties online campaigns. However, they are not well conceptualised or understood. I have developed a new working paper within which I analyse satellite campaign group Momentum and the Labour Party Facebook campaign.
The Facebook followers of leader and party pages of UK political parties from 2010 to 2021. Post Corbyn, the Tories are now dominating. While, some parties such as the Green Party have not grown in followership since 2018, while UKIP is going backwards.
GeoGuessr is a geographic discovery game designed by Anton Wallén. Released on the 9th May 2013, I doubt Anton had in mind the powerful escapism the game offers those stuck in seemingly never ending lockdowns. The game has provided me a gamified gateway to the wider world that I have been very grateful for.
The Netherlands’ 2021 general election is just around the corner. With spending on Facebook advertising very low the campaign is largely going to fall upon the feet of the parties organic Facebook campaigns. Here is how they are all doing.
I recently passed my pandemic viva via Zoom. To help others in the same situation here is a video I have made that offers some tips and advice for surviving a viva in such a difficult time.
I have just passed my PhD viva, I figured it would be of great help to other PhD students to outline my preparation for the viva and offer my tips and rules.
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