The section below was last updated in Feb 2009
Below is a bar chart showing the number of UK councillors joining Twitter according to months. It seems the highest months are May ’08 and Jan’09. This is possibly due to a number of reasons, either the increase of their local councils joining Twitter or even news of celebrities such as Stephen Fry and Jonathan Ross publicising their usage.
The bar chart below shows the number of UK Councillors followings vs their followers. It seems that most councillors are still in the early stages of adopting Twitter with the most councillors accumulating between 0-25 followings and followers. While the highest number of followers and following reaching more than 2000 users.
These are a few observations that I have made from all the accounts
- The web links provided by councillors on Twitter are not all related to their roles as councillors. 66% link to blogs regarding their role as a councillor, 9% link to unrelated roles, 4% link to campaign websites and 21% do not link to any website.
- Even though @loudmouthman or Nicholas Butler is the councillor with most followings, followers and updates, his website nor tweets are specific to his role as a councillor, though now I’ve come to understand he does discuss local government issues on his Twitter, which I’ve missed. Apologies Nicholas! Was difficult to look through all those tweets. 🙂 This demonstrates that though a councillor is using Twitter actively, it is not necessary used only for councillor purposes.
- There are also instances where more than 1 councillor is using 1 account. This is true in the case of @clapham, @labourstockwell and @WeLoveLarkhall, where 3 councillors join together to maintain the twitter account with twitterfeeds from their blog.
- Councillors are using Twitter for a variety of reasons. But most of the times, regardless of what their using it for, whether as a councillor or for professional reasons, it still used for personal means of communicating either their thoughts or feelings.
- However in cases where councillors are sharing a Twitter account, there are usually strictly used as feeds for their blog using Twitterfeed.
- You can determine whether a councillor is using Twitter as a councillor if they link their Twitter account to a councillor related blog. This can be true most times and highlights their intention to be recognized and followed based on their association with local councils.
- There are still a few of these accounts that have very little activity, therefore difficult to identify what type of activity or interactivity they will be involved in, whether personal or official.
- It was interesting to find that councillors use Twitter to tell us not only what their doing as councillors but how they are feeling as well. This sometimes leads to social conversations with followers.
- I also found that some councillors do infact talk to other councillors on Twitter, either swapping views or opionions on certain matters, or just encouraging each other in their jobs.
- It was also interesting to see councillors retweeting each others blog feeds or announcements to support their colleagues.
- Its hard to identify whether some of the conversations happening are between residents, because sometimes its hard to tell whether its a resident or just a friend. It could well be both if the councillor lives in the area of their constituents. But I did see evidence of some interaction on local issues.
- @barnetcouncil, @camdentalking, @wandbc, @lb_southwark, @stradforddc and @devoncc local councils also twittering along with their councillors. There is no obvious connection between the two yet, though in some cases where a social media strategy is present, there seems to be a common goal between the councillor and the local council when using Twitter.
- The usage of Twitter doesn’t just stop on Twitter. Some councillors chose to use Twitter widgets on their blog to update their blog visitors on their recent tweets. 42% of councillors use Twitter widgets on their blog.
- Party breakdown = 34% Lib Dem, 25% Labour, 25% Conservative, 6% Green and 10% Unknown.
- Another interesting fact is most issues discussed by councillors are also being talked by others on twitter if you search Twitter using http://search.twitter.com . This could be a great way for councillors to interact directly with those who are curious or are talking about the same issues as those councillors.
This post will be updated and polished from time to time, so please come back to check for any updates and changes in the future.
Hope it helped.
Liz is a researcher who is interested in the ways new kinds of social data and technology introduce challenges and opportunities to society.