Nine months after @David_Cameron joined, and was verified by, Twitter, the first tweet from the account was sent this weekend (a few minutes before 6pm, on Saturday 6th October).
The first tweet made reference to a radio interview in 2009 in which Cameron was asked for his views on Twitter. Cameron used bad language in his response and had to subsequently apologise for his choice of words. I was curious about the timing, as I had been surprised to learn just a few days before that Maria Miller, who wasn’t on any social media when we’d met at the Basingstoke Business Leaders’ Forum, had also started tweeting.
Curiosity about timing aside, my first thoughts were mostly positive – it was about time (many other world leaders are on Twitter and Cameron is the 370th UK MP on the platform), it could provide some interesting insights and exchanges, and the opening tweet suggested that the account would have some personality.
Two days, and four further tweets, later, I’m a lot less positive. Here are the tweets:
The tweets have been written in the first person, but with very little sense of them being personal. It’s social media. Yes, the account needs to be professional. But being professional is not mutually exclusive with being personable and having a personality.
Three of the tweets included links to carefully staged/managed photos, which jarred in their formality. They provided a poor contrast to How Jonathan Ross helped me see the business value of Twitter through his informal photos, and emphasised the extent of the gap with regards to engagement and advocacy.
Perhaps Cameron and @conservatives team should ask @Wossy for lessons?!
Good point well made. He seems to have completly missed the purpose of twitter. No doubt a campaign manager has pushed him into doing it as ‘Good PR.’ Hopefully he’ll work it out, but I suspect we will just see more adverts for him and his cohorts rather than as a window into what he is actually thinking or even a method of giving advice/help.
In fairness to David Cameron, it does appear as though he has not had the benefit of experimenting with Twitter much as at the time of this post. In my experience, some of the best Twitter feeds have been the unscripted ones – an intimate sharing of the author’s unscripted moments.
The human age old love affair with getting to know others is made all the more exciting with social media. We (all) have heard of David Cameron based on his job role as the premier and from what we gather from the media, but do we ‘know’ David Cameron? It is pointless us being told what he is doing officially since we read and hear all that from countless other media outlets. A personal Twitter account is just that: a subjective account of a user’s thoughts and feelings, not to mention a way of increasing one’s personal stock value! If communicated in a personable manner by David Cameron tweeting in the first person, then this becomes a perfect way to potentially connect with the voting public en masse by showcasing some personality. When the message looks carefully ‘staged’ it has less punch than one that is not. The single most effective (and free) safeguard against embarrassment is to simply think before publishing (or speaking) – that is to say, exercising good judgement as someone who is expected to have it in the first place. A gaffe-prone (influential) person loose on Twitter would understandably be a cause for concern, it is to add!
At a time when those in power are relentlessly accused of being out of touch with the rest of society and confidence in politicians is at an all-time low, maybe it is about time the individual behind the bespoke suits and pedantically scripted communications, took to tweeting in a much more personable manner. After all, ‘people’, not the machine, socially engage through human interaction, and Twitter is a great expediter. Let’s face it, you cannot spell ‘social media’ without ‘social’; if there is an absence of ‘social’ all that remains is the same old humdrum, scheduled ‘media’.
I am hopeful David Cameron will improve with time, as we all gained through practice and continue to develop.
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