Republican members of Congress use Twitter more effectively than Democrats, according to a study by Edelman Digital cited in Roll Call:
Studying 456 Congressional Twitter accounts, the firm found that Republicans are exceeding on all the “success metrics”: engagement, mentions, amplification and follower growth.
Congressional Republicans on Twitter have their tweets replied to twice as often as Democrats and are mentioned more often.
Republicans also had an edge in analyses done through TweetLevel, a tool built by Edelman to score levels of “influence,” “engagement,” “popularity” and “trust” on Twitter — though liberal Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who caucuses with Democrats, had the highest ratings for “influence” and “engagement.”
Republicans tweeted 52 percent more links than Democrats and mentioned specific pieces of legislation 3.5 times more than their colleagues across the aisle. They also used more hashtags than Democrats — a way to help elevate the visibility of certain keywords and causes — and included pictures and videos to make their communications more colorful.
Roll Call was quick to point out that “there’s nothing inherently ideological about such activities,” and they’re right; Democrats could use Twitter as effectively as Republicans. Yet, it doesn’t surprise me that they don’t condescend to interact with “ordinary” men and women more often through a messy medium like Twitter. Twitter might just be an inherently conservative medium, in the sense that it respects the individual first and foremost and in the sense that it is for “the masses.” Conservatives traditionally have more respect for the individual and for the way “the masses” work to satisfy their own needs and desires. So it makes sense we’d find beauty in the way people meet their own communication needs through Twitter. We tweet to hear ourselves affirmed and so meet our need for affirmation. We tweet a question to have it answered and so meet our need for information. We tweet to test a thought and so meet our need for constructive criticism. We ourselves are our own starting point, but, by putting our ideas forward, we also contribute to the needs of others. We need no middle man and we need no one to tell us who the “experts” are. It’s a free exchange of ideas.
This isn’t an unqualified endorsement of Twitter, though. I sense rather than know and can articulate that there’s a significant downside to it, as well. Still, it’s worth exploring — and it’s to Republicans’ credit that they’ve sought to use Twitter to positive effect.
P.S. If you’re so inclined, please follow me @TinaKorbe. Twitter is flat-out the most fun place to talk with strangers!