Thursday, July 21, 2011

Politicians and Twitter: Who Makes the Most of the Microblog?

Politicians are a dime a dozen on Twitter but are any worth a buck?

The microblogging service is populated with candidates, ex-candidates, office holders, and political wannabes. Putting a political campaign on Twitter is a great strategy but many politicians do not effectively utilize the communication tool after the big election.

Many political candidates and office holders have Twitter accounts. Unfortunately, many of these individuals do not bother to personally tweet from them. Usually it’s a few reluctant staffers that are assigned that job. The result is generally a boring and uninspired string of updates involving random events that the politician is attending, vague details of legislative sessions, semi-noteworthy quotes or ideological talking points. On the rare chance that a politician tweets for himself, chances are that he doesn’t understand how to effectively use Twitter to foster communication and build a brand.

Another mistake that candidates often make is to abandon their Twitter accounts when they lose an election. This may be the one case where Christine O’Donnell, the totally not-a-witch former Senatorial candidate from Delaware, has done something right. @ChristineOD has continued to tweet consistently – albeit somewhat poorly –from her account after her defeat in last November’s election. Furthermore, I’m almost positive she tweets entirely herself. Her typographical errors are slightly endearing and besides, I doubt that O’Donnell has the money to hire third-party help. Remember, this was the candidate that was under investigation for using campaign contributions to pay her personal bills. She also got a bit of flack for living in her campaign office.

There is at least one shining star in the political Twitterverse. Newark Mayor Cory Book does almost everything right. @CoryBooker has over 1 million followers and tweets constantly from his BlackBerry. Booker is a twitter genius. He responds to almost everyone who mentions twitter handle, retweets like a pro, and even uses hashtags to motivate constituents to exercise and eat well. He immediately answers calls for help and is always pleasant and positive - even when responding to his detractors. Booker is making quite a name for himself on social media and definitely a politician to watch in the upcoming years.

How do your favorite politicians use Twitter? If you need help finding some good – or bad - office holders to follow check out Tweet Congress and Political Twits.

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