From 6th April 2018, UK manufacturers will have to pay a levy on the high-sugar drinks they sell. Also known as the sugar tax, the debate has divided the nation. Some believe that we will simply get our sugar-fix elsewhere if we are not prepared to pay more. Others are afraid that chemical alternatives will replace sugar in order to swerve the tax. Experts are also divided, with some claiming that the tax is a ground-breaking policy that will help reduce our sugar intake. Whilst research from Mexico where the tax has been in place since 2014 suggests that although less sugary drinks are now consumed, there is no evidence to suggest this has led to a reduction in obesity.
Key Stakeholder Analysis
It is common to find lists of “influencers” in social media analyses. Normally this is either a rudimentary count of how many times a particular person/organisation has been mentioned or how many fans/followers they have (or both). Whilst this is useful in order to assess popularity and potential reach, we take a different approach.
What do we mean by key stakeholders? This is a phrase we use to describe individuals or organisations who are both influential AND well connected in discussions about a specific topic. By influential, we mean those who are referenced by others who are themselves highly referenced in a debate. This was originally how Google ranked its search engine results pages. By well connected, we mean those who act as gatekeepers in a debate. They are key to information flow and have the power to encourage (or prevent) dialogue.
We distilled the effervescent #SugarTax debate on social media in order to uncover the key stakeholders who were central to the discussion. You may be expecting to see names such as @JamieOliver, @CocaCola, @Ribena, @LucozadeEnergy or @IrnBru in the list. But our approach doesn’t necessarily rank the most popular, the most re-tweeted or those with the highest reach.
You may recognise some of the names, but there may be a few surprises. The list comprises those who are for and against the introduction of the sugar tax, retailers, politicians, activists and media outlets (who appear to act as the glue in the debate).