Earlier this year we looked at which election candidate was winning online. We found that leads of all three main parties had weaknesses in their campaigns, whether that was their websites, their position in the Google search results, or their presence on social media platforms such as Twitter.
Taking a more indepth look at the use of Twitter and electioneering we have guest blogger Alison Cross from AlisonCross4Webs.co.uk.
From Babies to Twitter
Candidates may still need to pound the pavements shaking hands and kissing babies to ingratiate themselves with their voters, but there is a new dimension to this UK Election: Twitter.
And I don’t just mean the Big Gun party leaders themselves hopping on the American President’s bandwagon (follow him @barackobama), but there is a whole new raft of information that we can get, via Twitter, that we have not experienced before.
From TV to Twitter
The party leaders jump through the flaming hoops of a TV dabate…and on Twitter, your followers who are watching the debate along with you, all start to chatter about the points being made.
A really bright spark points out that one candidate says ‘If I were your PM’ six times – and you wonder whether he is sending some kind of subliminal message to voters.
From Newspapers to Twitter
The newspapers lumber into attack mode: a huge smear campaign against one of the candidates – the reward for doing well in the TV debate. He is transformed from Churchill to Hitler in the space of 7 days!
Suddenly Twitter swings into action with people alerting followers to blogs, giving links to the old misquoted articles in full – showing the British media moguls for the biased decaying dinosaurs that they really are. The internet, via Twitter, allows us a portal to political platforms in a way that we have NEVER had before
From Twitter to… Twitter
People tweet questions about policy to their followers and are tweeted back immediately with links to various policy documents on websites, crits on blogs, lampooning websites, spoof twitter accounts. All of it prodding and nipping us into Thinking For Ourselves!
Political wives are in on the act in an entirely new way – reporting their progress on the campaign trail from a fascinating insider’s viewpoint.
Helping us work out what we think of these women as real people, bunions and all .
The politicians know that THIS time, we are chatting and discussing their performances and policies in a way that has never been seen before.
Newspaper reports can be almost instantaneously panned or lauded, zapped around the world in the length of time it takes to type 140 characters and a shortened url link.
Twitter is helping politicians AND their critics reach new audiences and heralds a new dawn in the way politics can be experienced in the UK.
Polling, Sampling, Testing & Feedback
With the huge variety of APIs available for Twitter, it should be possible for instantaneous sampling of the electorate using polls, inviting feedback and who knows what else as Twitter further develops and hones its abilities.
It’s not impossible to imagine in the near future that MPs will be able to create lists of all tweeters registered in their constituency – regardless of whether they are of the same political ‘faith’ to encourage a wide and open debate.
The wisdom of Crowds?
But it’s not all a Brave New World. There are, sadly, some very…unenlightened….people on Twitter whose tirades of barely literate ranting reminds us that there can be a mob mentality springs up in the Twitterverse.
You only have to look at the abuse that astrologer Robert Currey experienced on his Face Book account after he responded to @profbriancox about the validity of astrology: http://www.facebook.com/notes.php?id=267856933681. Vile – whether you believe in astrology or not.
Not everyone has a Twitter account, so the old tried and tested avenues cannot be abandoned – but the new political opportunities that Twitter offers are phenomenal.
Welcome to the new chattering class.
Alison Cross is a self-confessed Twitter addict who occasionally tears herself away from the world of social-networking to build or revamp websites, to design logos and website banners, to blog shamelessly about the joys of the intertubes and who sometimes even manages to factor in some light housework. She also runs alisoncross4webs.co.uk