Twitter announced last Friday that all 100 members of the Senate as well as 90% (398 members) of the House of Representatives are on Twitter. In the 112th Congress only 44% of Senators were on Twitter. House use of Twitter has also increased from 35% to 90% (398 representatives). Twitter also announced that Michelle Obama will be tweeting from @FLOTUS about her life as First Lady.
- An entire Senate on Twitter. Really. By Joseph Marks, NextGov (January 23, 2013).
Raw numbers can be misleading where Twitter is concerned. The federal tech sphere alone is littered with rarely used Twitter accounts. The Senate’s story seems different, though.
A quick review of about 30 senators’ handles revealed no slackers. All of the senators -- or usually their staffs, of course -- are tweeting at least several times a week but, more importantly, a solid proportion of those tweets include content that would actually be valuable to people following the senators’ activities, such as links to legislation the lawmaker introduced, notes on committee work and alerts about media appearances.
- 100 Senators and the 57th Inauguration, Twitter Blog (January 18, 2013).
- US Senate: A public list by Twitter Government: "Principal Accounts of Members of the U.S. Senate (a mix of campaign and government accounts)."
- US House: A public list by Twitter Government: "Principal Accounts of Members of the U.S. House of Representatives (mix of campaign/govt accounts)".
Library of Congress to receive entire Twitter archive, By Michael O'Connell, Federal News Radio, (Dec. 7, 2011).
The Library of Congress and Twitter have signed an agreement that will see an archive of every public Tweet ever sent handed over to the library's repository of historical documents.
...Researchers will be able to look at the Twitter archive as a complete set of data, which they could then data-mine for interesting information.
Time once again for a selection of news and new resources that we hope will be an interest to the FGI community. The posts are from INFOdocket.com (@infofodocket) where we compile and post new items daily from a variety of resources.
Eight of 10 members of Congress are tweeting and using Facebook, but only a handful use the social media sites to reach out to one of their most elusive constituent groups – Millennials, according to some experts.
Despite the fact that more than 80 percent of Congress is on Facebook and Twitter, only a handful communicate with Millennials in a meaningful way.
“I think there is room for improvement with everyone across the board, no matter where you are ideologically, in talking to young people,” said Ron Meyer of Young America’s Foundation, a conservative youth advocacy group.
The article includes two sidebar with statistics. Here are a couple of examples:
* Rep. Darrell Issa — @DarrellIssa — , R-San Diego, is the most frequent tweeter, averaging 13.6 tweets per day.
* Two-thirds of congressional tweeters predominately use Twitter.com directly. The other third uses Twitter applications. The most commonly used application is TweetDeck, with 12.7 percent of congressional offices using the application more often than not.
* The most popular day of the week to tweet on Capitol Hill is Wednesday. One member, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher — @DanaRohrabacher — R-Huntington Beach, tweets most on Sundays. He also replies the most often: 56.4 percent of his tweets are replies.
Good coverage of the Twitter Town Hall:
- Plenty of 140-character questions, few new answers in Obama's Twitter town hall, by Joseph Marks, NextGov (07/06/2011).
...fewer than two-dozen questions asked during the 75-minute town hall included one question by [the Speaker of the House] and [one from a] New York Times columnist.
...White House staff posted several Tweets to summarize a single answer, sometimes leading to strange non sequiturs...
- The 'Twitter Town Hall' that so really wasn't, by Megan Crepeau, Chicago Tribune (July 7, 2011)
Obama's event wasn't really Twitter, and what's more, it wasn't really a town hall.
The event itself and all the tweets can be found here:
Is anyone archiving this for posterity?
Boulder, CO based Gnip has announced they're working with LC and Twitter to deliver tweets to the archive.
During the past six months Gnip has been delivering 8 billion tweets each week to LC.
Gnip is in the real time social media biz for enterprise customers.
Much more info at:
There has been a lot of research done by academic and consulting institutions regarding Twitter adoption in politics. Between February 2010 to now, I think that there have been at least a dozen circulated studies on this topic. The fact that this topic is studied by consultants, economists, marketers, and political scientists suggests that the topic is important; or at the very least, a trend. A number of interesting results have emerged. Collectively, all of these studies give us a refined picture of a typical politician who Tweets.
Williams and Gulati (2010) find that those who adopt Twitter are politicians who have received a lot of contributions. Well funded politicians often have better access and information about "trendy" communication technologies. Alternatively, well funded politicians may have more connections and benefit more from technology that (presumably) maintains these connections.
Lassen and Brown (2010) find that politicians in less competitive districts are more likely to adopt Twitter. It is hard to say why this pattern emerges. However, our well publicized paper (Chi and Yang, 2010) may provide a hint.
Our study finds that the positive effect on adoption associated with the lack of competitiveness (i.e. electoral support) is largest for inexperienced politicians. This pattern seems to fit with the story which links the benefit associated with transparency and electoral support. Those with strong support have an incentive to maintain their constituents' trust. This incentive is strongest for those who are new to the game and have yet to solidify their positive reputation.
Now, this leaves the plethora of studies that seem to be fixated on showing: Republicans are more likely to Tweet (or have higher "Digital IQ"). You can find some of these studies here, here and here.
There are probably more studies floating around. But these are the ones that I believe have gained the most traction in the public arena.
"On Twitter, Cohen, who is 28, and Ross, who is 38, are among the most followed of anyone working for the U.S. government, coming in third and fourth after Barack Obama and John McCain. This didn’t happen by chance. Their Twitter posts have become an integral part of a new State Department effort to bring diplomacy into the digital age.... Traditional forms of diplomacy still dominate, but 21st-century statecraft is not mere corporate rebranding — swapping tweets for broadcasts. It represents a shift in form and in strategy — a way to amplify traditional diplomatic efforts, develop tech-based policy solutions and encourage cyberactivism. Diplomacy may now include such open-ended efforts as the short-message-service (S.M.S.) social-networking program the State Department set up in Pakistan last fall."
Digital Diplomacy. By Jesse Lichtenstein, New York Times (July 12, 2010).
Nathan Yang is a PhD candidate in Economics at the University of Toronto and has co-authored a couple of studies about Twitter in Politics. He asked that we post the following story. Look for more from Nathan in the following months. Let us know what you think by leaving us a comment.
FGI once posted the abstract of a very innovative and interesting study called “Twitter Use by the U.S. Congress” (PDF) by Jennifer Golbeck, Justin Grimes and Anthony Rogers. They mined the text of thousands of Twitter posts made by American politicians, and found that over 50% of the posts were of informational value.
Those who believe that Twitter has paved the way for transparent government can use this study to back their cause; while skeptics will simply claim that the “openness” of information is simply a new form of government propaganda. Resolving this debate is not easy, as it requires understanding each politician's incentives behind adopting Twitter. So here come the economists.
A study called “Twitter in Congress: Outreach vs Transparency” () by Feng Chi and Nathan Yang serves to do just that. It tries to understand the intrinsic factors behind who adopts and who does not. Understanding the cost-benefit trade-off will help us resolve this debate; at least, partially.
The story these researchers are trying to tell is that if U.S. Congressional members are using Twitter as a means of propaganda, the benefit should accrue as follows:
Representatives who have sponsored a large number of bills will enjoy a greater benefit from adopting Twitter as a means to generating public support. This support can, in turn, generate support from the political/ideological rivals they interact with on a regular basis; especially so if their rivals are ALSO Twitter adopters.
How relevant is this story? According to data on each representative's decision to adopt Twitter or not, the researchers uncover the following patterns:
- Representatives who have sponsored a large number of bills are more likely to adopt Twitter.
- The effect that the number of bills has on the propensity to adopt is significant for the subsample of Republican representatives, but not for the subsample of Democratic representatives.
- This effect is more pronounced for Republicans who belong to Congressional committees with a large number of peers who are Democratic Twitter users.
The researchers conclude that these patterns are consistent with their story above. In other words, it would appear as though Twitter is being adopted for reasons related to outreach; especially so for Republicans. Do you agree?
Your Tweets, Archived for Eternity, By Emily Long, TechInsider (04/14/10).
In true Twitter fashion, the news came out via the @librarycongress feed: "Library to acquire ENTIRE Twitter archive -- ALL public tweets, ever, since March 2006! Details to follow.."
Library of Congress to archive public Tweets, By Emily Long, NextGov (04/14/2010).
According to Twitter, the Tweets will be available for internal library use, noncommercial research, public display and preservation after a six-months.