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How are Politicians using Twitter?

posted by @cka_politwit on Aug 26, 2009

59 federal MPs have now joined Twitter. You can see an interactive timeline of when MPs joined here. Hopefully many more will join, I think many will this fall, especially if an election is called.

But how are MPs using Twitter and are they using it in a way that makes politics and government more accountable or accesable?

Here are some observations
  • Some politicians only use Twitter as a one-way communication to promote themselfs, only posting news updates and events
  • Others participate in conversation with Canadians and with other MPs. But many MPs Twitter accounts are rarely updated, they seem to only update during an election.
  • MPs like to promote local events in their community
  • Tweeting MPs add a personal touch to politics, which could help to combat voter apathy
  • As far as we know MPs who tweet are not put through any filter like the PMO and tweets cannot be completely deleted. So might an MPs tweet something they shouldn't?
  • in the USA, many Government departments have Twitter and provide updates on programs and spending. No Canadian government departments seem to use twitter, but some provincial Ontario ministries are tweeting.
  • Twitter updates are often the first source for news, before blogs, news media and TV. MPs or observers often tweet from their mobile phones.

Below are some statistics I've compiled using Politwitter that show how often MPs are using Twitter as a 2-way conversation. The numbers show that for the most part they are not replying to Canadians or to other MPs. Hopefully this will change as MPs start to grasp the potential of Twitter and learn the ropes.
The below stats are compiled from all the tweets since about mid May 2009.

MP @replies

Total: 252
MP replies
ujjaldosanjh 58
MinJK 50
cherylgallant 28
oliviachow 27
mpjamesmoore 18
HedyFry 15
TeamMHF 14
dondavies 6
GillesDuceppe 5
LibbyDavies 5

MP @replies to other MPs

Total: 12
MP replies
oliviachow 5
MinJK 3
mpjamesmoore 2
HedyFry 1
ujjaldosanjh 1

MP social media score

I created a new feature called "Politician Social Media Score" which grades how each MP is using social media like Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and flickr. This new feature is still a work-in-progress as I will be adding additional criteria and tweaking the point values. But its interesting to see which MPs are using new social media the most.

About Politwitter

Politwitter is a non-partisan service that brings together all the Canadian political twitter, making it easy to connect elected MPs & MLAs with the Canadian people.

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