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October 5, 2012

MPs told to brush up on Twitter skills: report

Research suggests parliament to be savvier with social media to better connect with voters.

By Tineka Smith

Westminster

The report by political UK think tank, Parliament Street, examined how MPs interact with voters on social media sites like Twitter.

The study analysed the frequency and content of tweets published against the number of followers.

The research found that the top ten MPs had a twitter following of nearly 23,000 while the average for all MPs is usually under 4,000.

Some of the top politicians were found to tweet 40 times per day on average while other MPs with fewer numbers are less enthusiastic. Some do not even have a profile photo for their Twitter account.

"Whilst it’s clear that certain MPs are maximising social media channels to engage with voters, many still have a long way to go before they achieve the status of becoming social media savvy politicians," said Steven George-Hilley, Parliament Street director of technology and enterprise.

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MPs that had a strong presence were ones that had regular engagement with voters and followers.

Even publically well-known MPs like Jack Straw were found to have a small number of followers because of lack of interaction.

MPs can use Twitter to help followers sign up to petitions while offering links and additional information to voters.

Politicians who display and interest in other topics and not just politics can help create a ‘normal’ image in order to reach out to voters easier.

"Simply signing up to Twitter and Facebook is not enough, these channels need to be frequently updated to provide the public with accountability and insight into the role of an MP," said Hilley. "Breaking down the barriers between the Westminster bubble and the electorate should be a top priority for all MPs and improving their social media skills is a key step towards achieving this."

Please follow this author on Twitter @Tineka_S or comment below.

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