How MPs can use Twitter to their advantage

I’m pleased to say that my local government is pretty good at this whole internet thing. The Lichfield District Council web site should definitely be looked up to by other councils and they’re also on Twitter along with the tourism folks.

But as recent talk has shown, some MPs don’t quite get social media and aren’t quite doing it right. They can’t see the benefits, which is probably one reason for the Government’s search for a Director of Digital Engagement to co-ordinate public engagement through the use of digital technologies.

In the meantime, I thought I’d help our MPs out a bit with some quick pointers on using Twitter. I’ll start off with the benefits.

What are the benefits of using Twitter to engage with the public?

  1. Accessibile – constituents can connect with you how they want, making you more accessible to them.
  2. Immediate – Twitter is a very time-sensitive animal meaning both you and constituents can get quick answers to quick questions.
  3. Democratic – the broadcast nature of Twitter gives you the opportunity to consult your constituents. Not sure which way to vote on an issue? Tweet the vote and ask constituents what they want.

So how do you go about using Twitter to do that?

Obviously, you need a Twitter account. That’s a fairly straight forward process.

Next, you’ll need to think about how you’re going to use Twitter. There is Twitter itself or you can use one of the many Twitter clients. To get you going, here’s some recommendations;

So now you’re all set up it’s time to start tweeting. Tweet about the work you’re doing in the community, issues you are thinking about, discussions in the commons and anything else that your constituents might like to hear about. There is little about to help the public find out what MPs are up to, so giving them that information through Twitter will likely be welcomed with open arms.

You can also use clients like Tweetdeck, or use Twitter search, to set up searches of places in your constituency that you can monitor. This approach will help you to find constituents with grievances and connect with them. Showing your presence alone should enhance your reputation, using Twitter to address issues will put you in very good stead.

When it comes to followers, please don’t feel you need to follow everyone. You’re not expected to read everyone’s tweets. The most important thing is that you pick up on @replies  and respond to them, just like you pick up on letters and e-mails.

Hopefully that’s helped you get on the ladder and for those already there, I hope it’s helped you to use Twitter more effectively. Obviously you can use the comments or tweet me for more help and advice, if you need it.


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