Do you tweet?

Having documented the influence of US satirists on political discourse, BBC NI Hearts and Minds’ Julia Paul looks at how Northern Ireland politicians are adopting online interactive tools – such as Twitter – just as those satirists are turning their gaze on the same. With contributions from, amongst others, an enthusiastic Conall McDevitt and a sceptical cynical Deric Henderson of the Press Association. [Doonesbury? – Ed] Indeed. Of course, it’s not an either/or situation.. This time I’ve spared you Noel Thompson’s ‘tweeting’ introduction. [Thanks! – Ed] You’re welcome..

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  • cjb28

    I’d first like to note the ridiculous introduction to the report with the reporter appearing from behind the newspaper. Indicative of some of the terible regional news reporting within the BBC.

    I think that the internet is an incredibly powerful political tool. Facebook, YouTube and mass e-mail being the obvious examples. It is great that we have such a direct forum to speak to our representatives. However one has to bring up the same old tired argument about the internet – must we really have to sift through all the crap before finding the real, relevant and substantive discourse? Is it really such a good thing to allow everyone such an open forum when we know how useless half the stuff we read on the internet can be?

  • sb

    Twitter and Facebook are powerful tools, and used properly can, without question, enhance any campaign. I would like to see more politicans using emerging technologies to communicate to their communities. Although the coverage to “grassroots” is a little overstated. Working class and disadvantaged communities are not widespread users of these new and emerging “blackberry communications”, and although conall believes it has opened up communication to the wider community, i would agrue that it is the political middle classes, in the main, that benefit most from this communication, and not the vast majority of people. You only need to take a straw poll, to work out that only those involved in some way with politics use twitter/facebook, or slugger to get their political fix. So, we are all talking to ourselves!

  • Liam Clarke

    I’ve got to say that the contention that Social Networking doesn’t allow for top down communication isn’t borne out by the content of the broadcast or the fact that Conall, a communications professional who is interviewed on it, is now relaying his take on the Youtube via blog, Facebook and twitter. This is surely another, cheaper way, of publishing. I do the same with many of my articles and so do some other journalists.
    On the segment we hear of Jeffrey Donaldson starting a Facebook anti-violence group and getting more than 20,000 people to sign up. Again there is nothing new in principle here. Its just a a handier, quicker way of doing something that would previously have been done with a newspaper ad or a public meeting. And its an easy way for people to register their feeling without actually having to get up from their desk.
    There was also a suggestion that it would be easy to tap into Barack Obama’s Twitter followers for someone else’s political campaign. That is just old fashioned spamming, an electronic mail shot, and is likely to get you barred by most of the recipients.
    Of course social networks do allow for very quick and easy feedback, but again that’s a more convenient way of doing what went before. It takes less effort too so it will register a lower level of interest than say, writing a letter to the paper.
    We can easily get carried away with the jargon.
    Listening to online chatter, identifying trends and intervening strategically is something else; it can be a very useful form of bootstrap market research. One of the most creative uses of social media for marketing was Cadbury’s Wispa campaign, where the company tapped into online nostalgia forums for the chocolate bar. They then stimulated that interest as the basis for a successful relaunch of a bar that had previously been discontinued because of falling sales.

  • I actually agree with nearly every comment above. Digital and social media does allow bottom up movements to take root but it also a very useful way in which to share traditional media output as is happening here.
    The point is that with digital and social media the consumer has the power to choose what he or she reads/views and to respond in real time to what is being said – in other words it facilitates conversation and coalitions of interest.
    I always advise people too look at this another media not a replacement for the traditional media but as something to consider alongside traditional PR. The key difference from a public relations point of views is that in order to get your message out online you need to understand how information will be transmitted and shared. It is nearly impossible to broadcast successfully into digital and social media. What you need to do is ignite conversation and create communities of interest. Blogs are a classic example of this. Facebook and Twitter allow that info to be shared.
    I have blogged many times on this http://www.oconallstreet.com