Upon its creation, Twitter’s user base was predominantly composed of young socialites who reported their every action at all times of of the day. Today, a total of 123 world leaders out of 164 countries have accounts on Twitter set up in their personal name or through an official government office, according to Digital Daya’s World Leaders on Twitter report. This number has risen astoundingly in very few years – in August 2011, only 69 out of 164 countries were using Twitter.
According to Yatterbox’s 2011 research, UK politicians are now pretty tweet-obsessed. There are 418 out of 650 members of parliament (MPs) currently using Twitter – that’s 64 per cent of the House of Commons tweeting away.
It is thus surprising to say that our prime minister has only just been added to the ranks of the social media elite. Since David Cameron’s announcement that the trouble with Twitter was that “too many twits might make a t—“, he has made a dramatic U-turn and joined the site, which is undoubtedly not his most successful move.
His first tweet read: “I’m starting Conference with this new Twitter feed about my role as Conservative Leader. I promise there won’t be too many tweets.” Although he managed to stick to his promise, he gathered more than 50,000 followers in a few hours after his account was launched.
George Osborne also decided to jump on the social media bandwagon and joined Twitter. The problem? People have been very vocal about their opinions and rained on Osbourne’s welcome to the Twittersphere parade. Comments such as “@George_Osborne you’re a first class bellend” show that social media might not always be a smart way to brand yourself and reach out to followers.
Nonetheless, the social media platform has become a vital component of a politician’s arsenal. The powerful grasp of sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, can no longer be ignored. This phenomena has, however, branched out to many of the world’s leaders who are active users of social media.
Different countries may have their own preferences or versions of famous social media platforms but the real boost of political activity always seems to be around election time.
President Obama had a successful web strategy that helped him win the 2008 presidential campaign. This specific election was dubbed the “Facebook election” as it was the first election in which all candidates attempted to connect directly with American voters via online networking sites. Let’s just say that Barrack Obama managed to break some records.
Italian comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo stunned everyone when he drew the largest vote despite using none of the more traditional campaign platforms, such as TV and newspapers. Instead, he only used social media platforms to reach out to the nation, ranging from Facebook to Twitter, where he has over a million followers.
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