Asked to comment on Twitter David Cameron once famously said, ‘too many tweets, make a tw*t’, giving the headline writers a lovely open goal to aim at when he finally signed up for the social network during this month’s Conservative party conference.
To give the Conservative leader’s answer to the original question – which predates his arrival in number 10 - more substance, he said he was worried about politicians communicating without thinking first.
It’s probably fair to assume that Mr Cameron’s Twitter feed is managed to within an inch of its life. From his first tweet on October 6, which referenced that earlier dismissal, to October 19, the Prime Minister unleashed just 15 tweets. All were very much what you’d expect from an account belonging to someone whose every character will be poured over by opponents and journalists. His use of the #welovetheNHS tag became a news story, but anyone wanting to get to know the Prime Minister personally will be rather disappointed.
Asked to discuss the new account for the BBC Alastair Campbell – the Labour former spin doctor – said the PM ‘didn’t really understand Twitter’. He pointed out that the 35 accounts he’s followed all belong to fellow Tories. Campbell said no British politicians were yet on top of a medium he says is playing a vital role in the current American presidential elections.
But there’s no denying that Mr Cameron has done well in the numbers game. He racked up 100,000 followers in a matter of days, forcing bookmakers to pay out (who bets on this sort of stuff?!) and slash the odds on him getting 1,000,000 followers by year’s end.
Labour leader Ed Miliband has 168,203 followers but with well over 1,000 tweets to his name is a relative veteran.
The Fanpage list puts our Prime Minister at number eight in its chart of most followed politicians (although this uses the official @Number10gov account, which is much older and busier than Mr Cameron’s personal feed).
At number one and two are Messrs Obama and Romney and the other highest ranked British politician (despite not really being a politician) is Sarah Brown, the last Prime Minister’s wife.
No one has really found a way of measuring what those numbers mean in terms that politicians care about, ie votes.
The Klout score, which attempts to measure ‘influence’, has been widely criticised but in the absence of anything else it’s worth looking at. Reorder the politicians’ rankings by Klout scores and we Brits vanish from the top 20 altogether, replaced by an army of American politicos with the Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger tucking in behind the two presidential hopefuls.
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