Tweeting along to the “first and last” Spring Budget

For Philip Hammond’s first (and technically last) Spring Budget, we once again tweeted along live with relevant ONS stats. As has become tradition, here’s a write up of how it went.

We again worked with our tweeting statisticians (who officially represent ONS on Twitter), and supported the stats using the main ONS Twitter account. We drafted some content in advance on areas we expected to come up but most of the tweets were written live on the day. We’ve found this approach works well for reacting to the speech with specific stats that tie in as directly as possible, and these are often the best performing content of the day.

Our visual website showcases our statistics in visually appealing, digestible stories and interactives. We referred to many of these products throughout the event, including our post-referendum economic dashboard, our household spending interactive and our GDP explainer.

Our tweets were picked up on the BBC live feed, which boosted awareness of our tweetalong and helped promote us as an impartial, reliable source to follow along live. 

We used new approaches when presenting our interactives to highlight the customisation elements they can offer. We prepared custom URLs and GIFs that jumped directly to certain items in our household spending interactive and specific countries in our trade map, with bespoke visuals that showcased this.

A lot of the key areas mentioned during the budget cut across various ONS visual posts. Childcare is covered in our unpaid work calculator, and we have a piece focusing on healthcare spending that performed well over the day:

For subjects written on the fly, self-employment was a big focus, as was qualifications and smoking, all of which we drafted live once they were referenced.

In November we launched our corporate National Statistical blog and there were relevant recently published posts we could point to on the day on income inequality and measuring the economy in the digital age.

Budget day also happened to fall on International Women’s Day this year. Our account, alongside some of our statisticians, shared relevant content for this earlier on in the day, which performed well.

Top tweets

Here are some of the top posts of the day from our budget tweetalong:

It was another successful event for us, with over 60 tweets sent out in total over the hour, more than 280,000 impressions on Twitter and plenty of positive anecdotal feedback from the day, with others externally promoting our content and helping raise awareness of what we were doing. It’s something we increasingly grow each time, tweaking our approach and tailoring posts based on what’s worked well in the past and what new products and features we have to offer to improve every time we do it.

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