Opinion: Calling all #libdem supporters – it’s time to tweet

Twitter, for those who don’t know, is an online social network where people can post 140 character messages known as “tweets”. Tweets can be a cool link you found, a question to your followers, or just an idle comment about what you’re doing. Although small at 5 million users (Facebook has 60m), its annual growth stands at over 1000% (200% for Facebook). It’s pretty hot stuff.

Now, I don’t know whether any of the Twitter users who read Lib Dem Voice have checked recently, but a tweet search for “libdem” makes pretty depressing reading (Non-Twitter users can check it out here ). Sure there’s some great Lib Dem Twitterers out there, like @libdemvoice, and @joswinson, and of course @nickclegg, but much of the traffic is quite negative.

Some select choices from the current timeline include @Labourcat’s gleeful, “Ha Ha Tad unfortunate Libdem candidate has a moat. Oophs.”; @fipz’ puzzled “#crapgraffiti at Bromley south. Vote lib dem. WTF”, and the postively charming comment from Andrew_GwynneMP that “@liambillington look I know what you mean! I have to deal with LibDem Stockport. Loathing of Libs something Labour n Tory can agree on!! :)”. (Which I think says more about Mr Gwynne’s sense of humour than it does about us).

I won’t comment on the stark contrast between Labour and Conservative insistence that the Liberal Democrats are an irrelevant party and the vigour with which they attack us, because that’s not my point here. The point is that the Internet is a medium in which a few committed people can punch far above their weight and have a much wider influence than they could otherwise.

Though I think few people would change their political views based on one or two tweets, and online campaigning is no substitute for shoe leather, nonetheless an Internet atmosphere positive to the Liberal Democrats would help immensely to keep people open-minded and interested for when we do come knocking on their doors.

While we may not have the membership of the other two main parties, we still have many dedicated activists. Twitter, like all social media, is going to fade one day, but it’s going to grow rapidly for at least two or three years. We need to get in there now and spread the Liberal Democrat vision of a fair, free and open society.

* Sarah McCulloch is a member of the Liberal Democrats based in Manchester and regularly tweets at @grassonmydesk.

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This entry was posted in Online politics and Op-eds.
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11 Comments

  • Foregone Conclusion 17th Jul '09 - 4:23pm

    This rather presumes that you can spread the Liberal Democrat vision of a fair, free and open society in 140 characters or less.

    Frankly, the current worship of Twitter seems banal and ridiculous – see the prize morons quoted in the post! Also note the ‘tweeterview’ with Nick Clegg in the Independent. He’s simply unable to say anything worthwhile about policy in 140 characters, and I’d be worried if he was. I’m not a Luddite by any means, and I’m quite open to the use of other social networking tools – but just not Twitter!

  • Cheltenham Robin 17th Jul '09 - 10:34pm

    OR – we could all do something useful like deliver some bloody leaflets!!!!!

  • I think people make too much of a fuss about Twitter, and indeed the Internet in general. There’s this rash assumption that just because everybody *can* read your outpourings online, everybody *will*.

    Tweeting doesn’t get you an audience of five million. It gets you a much smaller audience, largely of people you already know, most of whom don’t really care about what you have to say about politics. Ditto Facebook or anything else.

    Tweet if you want to. I’ll be out delivering.

  • Twitter is tedious.

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