Twitter is not only being used by everyday citizens, but by those in the political community as well. Everyone from Presidents, to Congressmen, to Prime Ministers have taken to using Twitter to get their political messages across. Some wonder if this has helped or hurt their cause.
Why Is Twitter So Popular?
Some feel that Twitter has become an indispensable tool for those in leadership and lawmaking roles. No one can deny the fact that it does give them the freedom to release their own messages, which are typically unfiltered and straight from the source.
For example, President Barack Obama of the United States simply Tweeted “four more years” when it was declared he had beat his opponent in the last election. With these three little words, which bypassed traditional media means, it quickly became the most re-tweeted post in history so far.
Faster Communication Than Traditional Media
Using Twitter allows politicians to comment on their own policies, react to breaking news and current events, as well as post photos of themselves, giving followers a glimpse of what is going on in their lives or campaigns. They can use this to their advantage as a real-time media tool. Never before had Twitter become such an integral part of politics as it did during the Presidential race for the White House in 2012. Now it has reached the point where it is almost necessary for important political figures to have their own Twitter account, because if they don’t, they will miss out on some very engaging political communications with their supporters, fellow politicians, campaign strategists, and journalists. Gone are the days when everything could be done through a press release.
Allows Politicians To Express Their Personality
Another advantage that politicians have when using Twitter is that it allows them to show a bit of their personality and their “human” side, outside of their role as a political figure. For example, one Senator posted a photo of the biggest pig at the State Fair on his Twitter account, which was a good move because many people can relate to such everyday things.
Twitter Does Have Some Downsides When Used In Politics
There is also somewhat of a downside to using Twitter in politics, as sometimes it seems to cause even more discord and disputes between Republicans and Democrats. Because of recent issues such as the events taking place in Syria, Twitter has stirred up controversy over President Obama’s military plans. Meanwhile, other politicians are carefully using Twitter as a way to frame their political image in a very favorable way. For example, one Senator who is a likely contender to run to for US presidential candidate in 2016, is using Twitter to motivate and get potential voters active in his political agenda so that it can help him in the future.
An International Phenomenon
The Twitter phenomenon is not unique to the United States and continues to grow internationally. In Turkey, President Abdullah Gul has over 3.6 million followers. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has approximately 3.1 million followers, While the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had more than 4.1 Twitter followers upon his death. Keep in mind that while the number of followers of some of these politicians may seem staggering, not all of their followers are real. While these leaders embraced the use of Twitter, many others fail to see the benefit and decide not to open an account.
Tweet With Caution!
Politicians also need to exercise caution when using their Twitter accounts, as a few have found out the hard way. Senator John McCain has stirred up controversy from his Tweets because of some derogatory comments, as well as Congressman Anthony Weiner who successfully ruined his political career and forced his own resignation after posting inappropriate photos on Twitter.
[Suggested reading: What They Should Teach In Grade-School Twitter Lessons]
Building a successful Twitter community, especially in politics, requires being responsible for the content that you make available to the public. By using smart, well thought out Tweets, politicians can engage readers and build followers. This gives both the politician and the followers an easy way to communicate about matters which are typically a lot more complicated. When used correctly, Twitter can open many doors for politicians and promote their campaigns or policies. When used incorrectly, it can damage a reputation, or possibly even end a career.
[Image source: MDGovpics, Flickr]