MPs need to use Twitter properly

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So, UK MPs and civil servants should be twittering more - and their tweets should be worthwhile, says a new report. I follow some MPs, - but it's amazing how when you challenge them - or try to engage, they don't respond. Not surprising really, is it? Neil Williams from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills has produced a 20-page document this week laying out a  "Twitter strategy" for all government departments. Mr Williams said Twitter could be used to communicate better with the public. Again, PLENTY always thinks this with Twitter and Facebook. What's the point of adding people, or following them, if, at least once in a while, you don't engage with them? There was a story from one MP who slammed social networking saying it was creating a dysfunctional set of society - meaning that those same people would be unable to communicate offline very well. Well, if you don't communicate online very well, or at all, then it's the same thing? The Tory MP Nadine Dorries slammed social networking and microblogging sites such as Twitter and Facebook for creating a society of dsyfunctionals. She wrote on her blog about a survey which claimed the average Briton only had 'three real' friends, while those on social networks were people interacting with huge groups of people, they had not even met before. She wrote: "Twittering has to be a symptom of a dysfunctional society. You know the one I'm talking about?; when people don't talk to, care about, help, consider or even interact with each other anymore." Dorries added: "Three good friends will be down to one in ten years as a whole generation of children who should have been kicking a ball around and building dens, take to the streets and discover that they don't know how to cope, lacking the ability to share or socially interact. Largely due to spending their childhood on an X box or a lap top. Maybe twitter is where they will turn to for comfort." She makes reference to those who post pointless Tweets, and asks whether anyone cares about the banality of reading about other people's lives. Dorries's point is spot on. Those who post pointless, tedious 'Tweets' and posts on Twitter and Facebook, are not very interesting. However, coming from a professional angle, those small, medium and large businesses that are not on Twitter are missing a 'twick.' Twitter is not just about posting personal Tweets. It is about building a community of support if you are a business or budding entrepreneur. It is a way of connecting with your target audience. And if Twitter is so boring, why are so many MPs taking up the craze on TweetMinster? Due to the informal nature of the tool, Neil Williams said people may not appreciate  "dry" twittering and officials would be required to post interesting and varied content. The tool could also prove useful in providing crisis communications, according to the guide:  "In the event of a major incident, where the department needs to provide up-to-the-minute advice, Twitter would be used as a primary channel alongside our corporate website, their report said." The new document on twittering comes as a report published by the Hansard Society, and Microsoft has found that only 11% of UK MPs are blogging and engaging with their constituents through Web 2.0 media. The report comes as there has been a great deal of talk over the importance of social networking via politicians. New American president Barack Obama led the way by using social networking and blogs to connect with voters, ( and still does) allowing them to make small donations, air their views and help shape ideas for future policies. Here are some key findings: - 92% of MPs use email - 83% of MPs have a personal website - 23% of MPs use social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook - 11% of MPs blog There are currently 646 MPs in the House of Commons, something which the Tories have wanted to lower. The percentages mean that over 70 MPs are using blogs in some form, and 148 of them are engaging on social media networks. Static websites are not enough to engage voters, or indeed individual constiutents into the political process.