George Osborne and social media: #hardworking or #hardlyworking?

Posted by Kate Healey Sep 3, 2013 3:18:34 PM

Topics: Tips, Online Marketing, Digital Marketing, Communications, Social Media

George Osborne recently received praise for his tactical use of hashtags, but will this spate of social media activity mark the start of a new era for this controversial figure's lacklustre online presence? We investigate.

George Osborne demonstrates personality on social mediaAfter the impromptu booing from the 80,000-strong crowd at the Paralympics' medals' ceremony last year, some would argue that perhaps, despite his high profile role as Chancellor of the Exchequer, it might be safer if George Osborne stayed clear of hashtags and RTs.

Yet with those boos no doubt still ringing in his ears, on 22nd April our right honourable friend signed up to Twitter on the day of the Budget - low key I'm sure you'll agree.

Four months, 120 tweets and a picture of number 11's cat in the budget briefcase later, 44,506 followers continue to wait patiently for our Twitter friend George to regularly engage in a meaningful way, rather than treating social media purely as a PR exercise.

And George has got a job to do if he is going to transform his social media presence into anything which remotely resembles that of Barack Obama's. Matthew Champion's article in the Metro recently highlighted the dramatic differences between the US president's social profile and those of his UK peers.

@BarackObama has an impressive following of 35 million and has sent over 9,000 tweets. Admittedly, Obama's Twitter statistics have been boosted by his re-election campaign, where  social media played a fundamental role, and, of course the fact that  his international standing is significantly higher than that of George.

Still it does provide food for thought, particularly when you compare these figures to those of David Cameron, who has sent only 290 tweets to his 397,890 followers and engages sporadically with them – how very British.

So is George's Twitter account a dead duck in terms of engagement, or can something still be done to bring out his personality and galvanise some activity? Given that former presidential candidate Mitt Romney hired “digital advocacy” group Red Edge to work out why his campaign failed, it'd be foolhardy to underestimate the importance of George's online presence to both his personal and his party's success.

As it stands, Osborne could arguably be better off without a social media presence, as his efforts are half-hearted at best and misguided at worst. However, with the general election coming ever-nearer, more and more voters will want to engage via this medium, so there's no better time for George to buck up his ideas.

Without further ado, here is our nine lives survival guide, which George would do well to take note of as he looks to develop his identity on social media:

Was this picture an attempted PR stunt?The world doesn't revolve around you – Despite having sent out over 100 tweets, George is yet to ask a question and has only managed a meagre two retweets. Engagement will only come if you take the time to listen and learn from those around you. Take full advantage of twitter and make the most of your tweets by using appropriate hashtags, rather than just trying to create your own!

Be yourself – Asking someone else to run your personal Twitter account for you automatically removes the opportunity for personal engagement, which ultimately is what Twitter is all about. Take advice, yes, but the buck stops with the tweeter, otherwise people will lose interest quicker than you can say "tax cuts". Obviously this poses problems for politicians, who have to stay on-message, but displaying a little personality could do wonders for his somewhat staid account.

Tweet strategically – It's still a relatively new account, so it needs to be nurtured. Create a content calendar and strategy, include useful tweets on the economy, retweet relevant articles and react to the big news when it breaks. Be active - you've got to work at it to make it work for you.

Add value – Behind the scenes footage of an event or information that people won't find elsewhere are gold dust on Twitter (and no, eating a Byron burger doesn't count). By giving followers a snapshot of your day, it helps show how busy your schedule is and will also encourage empathy and engagement.

Track your statistics – Take time to analyse your campaign. Look at which posts achieve the highest level of engagement and which have the lowest. By evaluating these figures, you can adjust your efforts and transform it into a more successful account going forward.

Create a blog – Take the conversation further than 140 characters by setting up your own blog, rather than just guest blogs. This will help put forward your opinion and provide some reputation management to drown out other, less favorable blogs. After all, if it's good enough for Ed Balls, it's good enough for George.

Reach out – Just because you're a politician, doesn't mean you can't engage with people from other walks of life. Be it scientists, businesses, charity workers or mothers at home - listening to them will enrich your Twitter experience and show that you are in touch with the real world.

There's no “undo” button – Be wise. The world can see what you tweet, so think about the repercussions before you do. You only have to look over to your Coalition partners to see that sometimes Twitter is the master of 'spin'.

Be funny! It might sound out of character, but Twitter gives you an opportunity to show you do have a sense of humour and can take it on the chin. So when you read @frankieboyle's post: "Hey George Osborne. If you want to raise 10billion, just charge 5 quid a go to hit you in the face with a travel iron," which has been retweeted over 4,000 times, why not RT? Instead of thinking that you are lowering the tone, it might make you more human in the eyes of your followers.

So what do you think, have George's nine Twitter lives expired, or can he salvage his forsaken profile? We always love to hear your opinion so don't be shy and leave us a comment.

And if you're wondering how to enhance your Twitter presence or just want some advice on social media marketing in general, give us a shout @RDPRTweets or get in touch today.


Images used courtesy of George Osborne on Twitter.


Recent Posts