Microblogging is all the rage in the UK government sector.
Number 10 Downing Street’s 1,400 tweets are followed by more than a million people. Staffers not only cover the Prime Minister’s every move but also do an admirable job of ensuring a two-way exchange with the public. In the Twitterverse, @downingstreet is joined by central government accounts including BIS, DFID, FCO, DCSF, HMT, MoJ, DFT, UKTI, Directgov, Businesslink, NHSChoices, EHRC, CRC Ofcom, Cabinet Office and Cabinet Office/DDE. Communities and Local Government tweets. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office tweets. The British army plans to recruit using social media. The Labour, Conservative, Green and Communist Parties all utilize Twibbons, a Twitter application allowing supporters to show party support. Even Buckingham Palace has gotten into the act with 700+ royal tweets at @BritishMonarchy. [Question to self: is “at @” redundant?]
The tendency to use Web 2.0 is so strong that an official publication advises UK civil servants on social media best-practices.
Not everyone got the memo it seems. The wife of MI6 head put her husband Sir John Sawers on Facebook in his Speedo, creating an uproar in the UK. Thankfully he wasn’t wearing a 100% polyurethane racing swimsuit or the media would have really gone wild.
Some UK politicians choose to stay offline, and that’s probably a good thing. The government advises use of “informal spoken English” for tweets. I won’t quote David Cameron’s colorful language here, but the British Conservative party leader’s interpretation of that standard is a bit too liberal for everyone’s taste, party affiliation aside.
Most everyone in UK government is Twittering, but looking at new/recent reports concerning the UK private sector, microblogging has corporate marketers befuddled. Research released by Brightwave on July 29th claims 41% of business decision makers don’t understand the value of social media. Back in May, a McCann Erickson report claimed 66% of UK marketers didn’t know how to use social media.
Will British corporate leaders catch up with their government colleagues? According to a new report from Emailvision, of digital marketers who attended the Online Marketing Show in London last month only 3% are looking at social media for promotion purposes. The research was sponsored by a company whose services are in the Web 1.0 arena, so we might take the findings with a grain of salt, however the statistics from Brightwave, McCann Erickson and Emailvision taken as a whole clearly show that English business microblogging is in its infancy.
–“Political Communications in the UK? Twitter, and Bob’s Your Uncle.” posted by Gregg Rapaport