A political view – Guest Blog by John Keenan

It was about a year ago that David Cameron, when asked by a DJ why he didn’t make more use of Twitter to spread his message, replied: “Too many twits might make a twat.”

Enough time has elapsed for the prime minister to reflect on his words and realise that the only one looking like a, er, twit was himself.

From Sarah Brown to Barack Obama, no politician now considers it infra dig to get their thoughts across in 140 characters or fewer. Tweeting Tories include @WilliamJHague, @EricPickles and @Jeremy_Hunt. And, yes, even, @Number10gov is in on the act. On the other side of the house, @johnprescott and  @DMiliband are two ideologues unafraid of the 21st century. Our local representatives in Brighton and Hove seem to have mixed feelings about social media: Caroline Lucas has embraced it with enthusiasm (@CarolineLucas);  Simon Kirby (@Kirby4KT) needs to update his feed more frequently; and Mike Weatherley is off the radar.

For those who still harbour scepticism over the efficacy of Tweeting, here is some compelling news. Last week the parents of a boy who was missing in Sussex put out a tweet asking people to look out for him. This was picked up and retweeted by their friends and from there it mushroomed. Someone who was involved in the effort told me that the estimated reach of the tweets was 10 million. Most of the standard reporting applications for Twitter gave up under the volume of tweet and retweets. There is a happy ending: the boy was found safe and well, due to the power of Twitter.

If this has convinced you that now is the time to dip your toes into the welcoming waters, here are five top tips to get you started:

1.   Know thyself: stick to topics that interest you and you’ll find that you are interesting

2.   Be specific: the limited character count is a boon to good writing

3.   Socialise: retweet and respond frequently. It’s called social media for a reason.

4.   Keep cool: as at any party, you might encounter the odd bore and nuisance. As you would in the real world, be polite and move on.

5.   Don’t mix business and pleasure. Work out whether you have come to play or get serious. And don’t pester people to read your blog. Even this one… oops.

@thejohnkeenan

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6 Responses

  1. […] This post was Twitted by BBLC […]

  2. Corrections and clarifications department

    An update from Jo Wadsworth at The Argus informs me that the youngster was found by the police at a friend’s house. A victory for good old-fashioned common-sense rather than social media, perhaps, but at least all’s well that ends well.

  3. Hi John,

    Just thought I’d add one of my fave political-type bloggers to the list, Tom Watson.

    http://www.twitter.com/tom_watson

    He’s really on the ball when it comes to gov and new technologies.

    Laura

  4. A better example of genuinely useful Tweetage was during the uprisings in Iran six months or so ago. Alongside moving footage of motorcycle militias and one particularly graphic photograph of a recently murdered protester, people using Twitter could quickly and efficiently convey information to the outside world from beneath the state-sanctioned media blackout.

    But yes, there are more local stories…

    I don’t think that social networking needs to be that useful though. I’ve just moved to Brighton, and as part of a course I’ll be working at the Argus. I need to get to grips with social networking as well as the ins-and-outs of Brighton, so I’m blogging and tweeting about the city and the area as I move in. Not sure how useful or interesting my tweets will be, but I hope somebody will be interested to see what their city looks like to an outsider!

  5. excellent writing .

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