As you all know, we are running a survey into MPs’ and politicos’ use of twitter. Part of the survey asks why are there so few Tory MPs tweeting in comparison to Labour and Lib-Dem MPs. We also ask which party gets social media.
I’m sure anyone who follows politics through social media may have seen or heard about the interview with David Cameron on Absolute Radio this morning, essentially making a jibe at twitter and having a good joke with Chris O’Connell on the breakfast show.
Essentially Mr Cameron was asked if he used twitter and his reply was “politicians have to think about what we say” and the instantaneous nature of twitter can lead to a problem of keeping on message and not being able to get a message across in 140 characters. This is a reasonable and legitimate argument against the use of twitter as a political engagement tool, albeit one I disagree with.
But these perfectly reasonable points led to a bit of a gaffe when Mr Cameron said “too many twits might make a twat.” Oh dear.
Funny at the time maybe and I’m sure absolutely no offence intended -he clearly didn’t call people who use twitter twats, but in the blogosphere and twitterverse, eyebrows have been raised. If you search for Cameron on the Twitter search engine today, most of the tweets are focusing on this. I personally feel it shows a lack of awarness of the medium by the Tory Leader. The fact that this message has spread well-past normal Absolute FM listeners shows the power of social media. Even if you aren’t on twitter yourself, the message is still instantaneously released as Mr Cameron found out. He has since apologised for his slip up.
It also shows an inherent lack of understanding of the medium by UK politicians generally. Tools like twitter should be used to create calls-to-action for public engagement. Examples include asking followers to come to rallies or events, calling for support on specific issues, making people aware of campaigns.
Twitter, politically speaking, isn’t just for stating what you are having for breakfast or with marked frustration, tweeting how many letters you have opened today, as one MP did I noticed, although tweets like these do personalise the user, so they should be interspersed with the calls to action.
News outlets have jumped on the Cameron interview. The Guardian, the Telegraph, the Times, Sky, Reuters, the Press Association to name but a few, have all made comment on Mr Cameron’s choice of words and Labour List are currently having a field day.
The slip up won’t lose Cameron too many votes, but the question remains, does Mr Cameron and the team not get social media, or do they just not get breakfast radio?
Below is the video of the interview embedded from the Absolute Radio YouTube site – let me know your thoughts