Burson-Marsteller - Congressional Use of Twitter 2010

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Burson-Marsteller investigated the Twitter accounts of all 533 current representatives and senators. Data was collected by Burson-Marsteller’s Global Research Team from June—July 2010 based on tweets …

Burson-Marsteller investigated the Twitter accounts of all 533 current representatives and senators. Data was collected by Burson-Marsteller’s Global Research Team from June—July 2010 based on tweets from June 2010.

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  • 1. ANALYSIS OF TWITTER ADOPTION BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS How the House and Senate are Using Twitter to Connect with Constituents BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 1
  • 2. Overview and Methodology BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 2
  • 3. Twitter and Congress The emergence of social media during the 2008 presidential election fundamentally changed how politicians communicate with and mobilize constituents. On election day, Barack Obama’s Twitter account had 118,107 followers -- an enormous number compared to John McCain’s 4,942 followers. Since then, President Obama’s Twitter following has swelled to about 5 million, and a growing number of representatives and senators have joined the Twittersphere, demonstrating their social media competency and willingness to open the lines of communication with their constituents. Twitter is being used for direct communication to the general public (as demonstrated by Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Tweet at the right). This study examines the congressional presence on Twitter leading up to the 2010 midterm elections. BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 3
  • 4. Methodology • Burson-Marsteller examined congressional Twitter accounts for all 533 current representatives and senators. Each Twitter account was categorized as either “campaign” or “congressional office.” ‐ Twitter profiles contain website addresses. Those website addresses that linked the Twitter account to official congressional websites were categorized as “congressional office Twitter accounts” and those that linked to campaign websites were categorized as “campaign Twitter accounts.” (See next slides for enhanced definition.) ‐ Data in this report is broken out by Democrats and Republicans. The data from the Twitter accounts of Independents are counted in the total results, but have not been broken out due to small sample size. • Data was collected from June—July 2010. Monthly data was collected based on tweets from June 2010. BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 4
  • 5. Methodology: Definition of Campaign vs. Congressional Office Accounts Because of federal regulations, campaigning and/or fundraising cannot be done from within a congressional office. Therefore, congressional office Twitter accounts must be kept separate from campaign Twitter accounts. Congressional Office Accounts Campaign Accounts Twitter page links to official Twitter page links to campaign site congressional site Discuss congressional debates Discuss campaign activities Discuss committees and hearings Discuss fundraising Can be maintained by congressional Can be maintained by campaign staff office staff BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 5
  • 6. Methodology: Examples of Campaign vs. Congressional Office Accounts Campaign Account Congressional Office Account BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 6
  • 7. Results BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 7
  • 8. Sample: Democrats Have the Majority in Congress • At the time of data collection, Democrats have the majority in both the House and Senate. BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 8
  • 9. While Democrats Have the Majority, More Republicans are Active on Twitter • About six out of 10 (62%) senators and representatives have Twitter accounts. • While there are fewer Republicans in Congress, a larger percentage of them are using Twitter to communicate. 72% of Republicans have at least one Twitter account, compared with 55% of Democrats. Percent of Senators and Representatives with Twitter Accounts 72% 73% 68% 62% 63% 62% 55% 55% 56% Both Parties Democrats Republicans Total House of Senate Representatives BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 9
  • 10. Seventeen Percent of Senators and Representatives Have Two Twitter Accounts • Republicans are nearly twice as likely as Democrats to maintain two Twitter accounts (24% for Republicans vs. 13% for Democrats). Those who have two accounts use one for congressional office activities and one for campaigning.* • More House members (20%) than senators (6%) have two Twitter accounts, probably because House members are running for re-election in November 2010, and therefore have the second account for their campaign. Percent with Two Twitter Accounts Both Parties Democrats Republicans Total House of Senate Representatives * See Methodology for definitions of congressional office and campaign Twitter accounts. BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 10
  • 11. Almost One-Third of Congressional Representatives Have Campaign Twitter Accounts • Campaign Twitter accounts are used to broadcast messages on fundraising, special events and rallies, appearances by the candidate and responses to challenges and statements of opponents. • Overall, 36% of Republicans maintain a campaign Twitter account, as compared with only 27% of Democrats. The differential between parties is greater in the Senate. – Among members of Congress up for reelection, Republicans are more likely to have a campaign-focused account (39%) than Democrats (31%). Percent of with Campaign Twitter Accounts Both Parties Democrats Republicans Total House of Senate Representatives BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 11
  • 12. Fifty-seven Percent of Republicans Have Congressional Office Twitter Accounts • Overall, 47% of the members of Congress have congressional office Twitter accounts, which discuss legislative issues and the congressperson’s legislative activities. The proportion of congressional office accounts surpasses the 31% who have campaign accounts (prior slide). • 57% of Republicans have Twitter accounts from their congressional offices, as compared to only 40% of Democrats. Percent with Congressional Office Accounts Both Parties Democrats Republicans Total House of Senate Representatives BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 12
  • 13. Campaign Twitter Accounts Have Thousands of Followers • Campaign accounts have an average of 3,899 followers. This number of followers is double the number of accounts that the campaigners are following (1,732). • On average, Republicans have both more followers (4,820) and people they are following (2,675) than Democrats do (2,972 followers and 690 they are following). Average Number of Followers/Following per Campaign Account Both Parties Democrats Republicans Average Number Average Number of of Followers per People Each Account Account is Following BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 13
  • 14. Congressional Office Accounts Have Fewer Followers than Campaign Accounts • Congressional office accounts have an average of 2,471 followers. This number of followers is triple the number of accounts that the members of congress are following (806). • Republicans, with an average of 3,269 followers, have almost twice the followers of Democrats (1,637). Average Number of Followers/Following per Congressional Office Account Average Number Average Number of of Followers per People Each Account Account is Following * The congressional office accounts of outliers Senator John McCain (R – AZ) and Senator Claire McCaskill (D – MO) have been removed to avoid skewed results. BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 14
  • 15. Fifteen of the Top 20 Most Followed House of Representative Accounts are Republican Note: Data collected 08/30/10 BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 15
  • 16. The 20 Most Followed Senate Accounts John McCain 1,717,105 Jim DeMint 48,978 Claire McCaskill 40,251 Scott Brown 24,624 Barbara Boxer 22,076 Chuck Grassley 20,011 Democrats Al Franken 18,108 Republicans Tom Coburn 16,557 Mark Warner 14,673 Chris Dodd 12,261 Bill Nelson 12,102 John Cornyn 11,116 Orrin Hatch 10,829 Russ Feingold 10,784 Harry Reid 10,504 John Kerry 8,969 Arlen Specter 8,739 John Thune 8,499 David Vitter 7,293 Susan Collins 6,112 Note: Data collected 08/30/10 BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 16
  • 17. Popular Congressional Twitter Accounts At the time of data collection, Republican Senator McCain had 1,720,170 followers. The most followed Democrat was Senator Claire McCaskill with 38,512 followers. BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 17
  • 18. Vast Majority of Accounts are Active • Accounts are defined as “active” if they have been posted on within the last month (from the time data was collected). • The active status of the Twitter accounts suggests that representatives understand the importance of maintaining an on-going conversation with followers. Percent of Active Accounts Both Parties Democrats Republicans Total House of Senate Representatives BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 18
  • 19. Slightly Over One-Half of Accounts are Engaging Via Retweets • 53% of accounts are retweeting, and Percent of Accounts with Retweets are therefore reading and sharing content from other Twitter users. Retweeting signals that members of Congress are engaging the community dialogue on Twitter, and not just pushing out their own content. • While 65% of House Republican Total House of Senate Twitter accounts are retweeting, only Representatives 36% of House Democratic accounts have retweets, suggesting that the Both Parties House Republicans may be more Democrats involved in the Twitter conversation. Republicans BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 19
  • 20. Republicans Retweet More Frequently Than Democrats • Of members of Congress who retweet Twitter content, they average a modest 2.97 retweets per month. ‐ Senate Democrats who are retweeting average 0.93 retweets each per month, as opposed to the Senate Republicans’ 5.11 retweets per month. Average Number of Retweets per Month per Account Retweeting Both Parties Democrats Republicans Total House of Senate Representatives BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 20
  • 21. Well Over One-Half of Accounts are Addressing Specific People on Twitter • 59% of congressional accounts are using the “@” function on Twitter, which signifies that they are talking about or reply to specific individuals on Twitter. Similar to retweets, the “@” function signifies that congressional representatives are participating in a dialogue and not just pushing out information on Twitter. Percent of Congressional Accounts Using the @ Function Both Parties Democrats Republicans Total House of Senate Representatives BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 21
  • 22. The Use of “@” is Modest, Even Among Members of Congress Who Use It • The number of tweets including the “@” symbol average 2.14 per month per congressperson who use the function. Those tweets with an “@” make up an average of 10% of their total monthly tweets. Average Number of @s per Month Both Parties Democrats Republicans Total House of Senate Representatives BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 22
  • 23. Key Insights • Congress as a whole is using Twitter for real-time messaging. Congressional Tweeters can reach out to the public at any time without the more elaborate planning required for a news release or a press conference. ‐ Using Twitter strategically to deliver social media-appropriate messages can be an expedient approach for sharing information and encouraging real-time dialogue. • Twitter provides the opportunity for politicians to engage in two-way communication with constituents. However, many politicians are still using their accounts to broadcast news rather than participate in conversations. ‐ If the Congressperson is not engaging with constituents by using retweets and “@” mentions, s/he is not taking advantage of the unique benefits of having a real conversation via social media. • Congressional accounts that are written in the authentic voice of the representative are more effective in attracting followers and gaining influence. ‐ Regardless of who is actually posting the tweets, congressional accounts with many followers tend to speak from the genuine voice of the congressperson, thus taking this approach is most effective. • Even if representatives do not have Twitter accounts, people are talking about them. ‐ Monitoring what is said about a Congressperson, and responding to those talking about the Congressperson with the “@” mention where appropriate, can be an effective way to participate in the Twitter conversation. BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 23
  • 24. Key Insights • Many fake or imposter accounts turned up in the search for official accounts. ‐ Being aware of these accounts, and having them closed if necessary, is important to maintain a strong reputation in the social media space. • Republicans have, on average, more followers and proportionally more accounts than the Democrats. ‐ Data from the 2008 Presidential election suggests that grassroots campaigning via the Internet, including social media, contributed to President Obama’s win. Future analyses will demonstrate how social media plays a role for Congressional seats in the November 2010 elections. • Some members of Congress have “private” Twitter accounts, and constituents must make a request to follow the politician’s account. ‐ Maintaining a private account may signal a lack of openness to the public. This also is limits the member’s ability to engage with constituents via social media – and is counterintuitive in an environment which is predicated on interactivity. BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 24
  • 25. Contacts Dallas Lawrence Managing Director for Public Affairs 202.530.4615 Dallas.Lawrence@proofic.com www.twitter.com/dallaslawrence Ashley Welde Director of Research 212.614.4924 ashley.welde@bm.com BURSON-MARSTELLER EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNICATIONS 25