Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The BOTYs - Best use of blogging/social networking by a Liberal Democrat.

Last year this award was won by Jo Swinson for the genuine and prolific way she used (and continues to use) Facebook and Twitter, giving a glimpse into her real life as well as her public duties.

This year, I think that it's going to be hard to beat Nick Barlow, Liberal Democrat Colchester Councillor for #nickcleggsfault on Twitter which was his way of dealing with the onslaught of ridiculous tabloid smears on Nick Clegg in the wake of his fantastic performance in the first Leaders' Debate. Within hours, it had caught on and Nick was being blamed for everything from Libby in Neighbours being in a bad mood to Starbucks not having people's favourite muffins.  Humour is always a good response to bile and this one really caught the imagination and was mentioned all over the media, including the BBC News website.

Now that I don't work for Willie Rennie any more, I am under no obligation to be nice about him. However, I was a great admirer of the way he combined use of Facebook and Twitter to interact with people. He took casework from both and answered questions from constituents all the way through the election.  My favourite moment was a tweet from him during the horrendous snows of January. To put it in context, it was at a time when Fife was in the process of running out of grit for the roads. People on Facebook were, to say the least, quite critical of the Council's performance and Willie had spent a lot of time taking up their concerns and passing on the latest advice. He'd also been pressing John Swinney, the Scottish Minister responsible, to provide more grit for Fife. To say emotions were running high, and understandably so, would not be an exaggeration. So there's Willie, walking round London, tweeting this
has just passed a pile of grit on Westminster Bridge and is tempted to stick it in his bag for the journey back to Fife.
People appreciated this spur of the moment  humour and his Facebook wall was filled with collective laughter.

He also used his Facebook page during that time to keep people informed about school and nursery closures which was very useful to many people.

The online rapport he'd established with people definitely helped  the day his Twitter was hacked, though. It automatically feeds through to Facebook so I woke up one morning to a message from a friend of mine alerting me to the fact that Willie's status was, shall we say, out of character. Readers will be glad to know that I, along with his Facebook friends and Twitter followers responded by taking the mickey, mercilessly.

Another good example of social networking was the integrated Labservatives campaign which covered a blog, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube during the election. I don't know who's responsible for that - I expect someone in the Cowley Street campaigns department, but it was definitely well done. I can't link to it any more as all traces were tactfully removed after the formation of the coalition government, which is a bit of a shame. It may not be eligible for the award as it might be too much of an official party thing, but Gorvid Camerown deserves his swan song.

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