Congressional Tweeting: The Successes and Failures of Tweeting on Capitol Hill
A recent study by the global public relations firm Edelman has found a series of interesting statistics concerning both the US Legislative Branch and the online social microblogging site Twitter. Given the meteoric rise of microblogging and instantaneous feedback social networking, members of the US Congress have begun to establish more and more of an online presence, reflected in the Twitter accounts that they hold. Although the Democratic Party usually has a reputation for being better-informed and more facile with current social media technologies, it is actually the Republican Party that makes the most effective use of such services as defined by the measured metrics of engagement (number of replies to tweets), mentions (number of retweets and twitter handle mentions), amplification (number of retweets of congressional members’ tweets), follower growth, and a proprietary measure of how “trustworthy” each account was.
Republicans were found to outperform Democrats by tweeting (on average) 30% or more, in addition to smaller gaps in static tweets, replies, and retweets. Republicans were also more likely (52%) to post relevant links and multimedia-rich sites (60%). In addition to this, there was a higher rate of hashtag use by Republicans, followed by a 3.5x (by number of tweets) direct mentions of specific pieces of legislation. another interesting behavioral note is how congressional members tweeted differently from the Northeast (were retweeted by others several times more than any other region), the South (posted the most replies from any other region), the Midwest (posted more frequently and the most multimedia links), and the West (posted more hashtags and posted more retweets than anyone else).
I found this very interesting, because this really shows how Republicans are making effective use of Twitter and incorporating it into their campaign and legislative apparatuses, and I was surprised by the overall rate of adoption of this technology in Congress, since after the public debacle of SOPA/PIPA in early January, it is hard for most Americans to even consider using the words “Congress” and “effective use of technology” in the same sentence in a positive manner.