Political Twitter

Political Twitter

Social Media | Judette Coward-Puglisi

June 9, 2009

It’s smart to be alert to the recent marriage between communication and social media.


This is not a shot-gun wedding, the nexus is being built to last.  But  while the rules of engagement are still being written in many corporations, some  have decided to throw caution  to the wind. 


Surprisingly a lot of the interest in new media is  coming from the government, not exactly known for their fast adaptation of anything. Several  ministers are on facebook including Conrad Enill, Karen Teshiera  and Gary Hunt. Last week in the Newsday, Parliament announced their Twitter presence  and some months ago, the Ministry of Health  advertised their embrace of facebook and the micro blogging site with a series of newspaper ads.


Smart move? The jury is still out.


While not every new mode of new media communication lends itself to politics, where speed and complexity rarely coexist,  I think to its credit, the Ministry has been searching for the right balance  between the long and short format means of communication that  social media permits.


For instance, on Saturday  I learned  that the 2nd case of the H1N1 virus  had been confirmed in Trinidad  from the Ministry’s facebook. The press release was considered and addressed the relevant questions that any journalist or blogger would ask in the short-term. 


However, when I decided on Saturday to subscribe to the Ministry’s  RSS feeds on Twitter I had a hell of a time finding them on the platform. 


The Ministry does not call itself by its official name but by an MOH acronym that is made further obscure by an underscore sign followed  by the words TT (MOH_TT).  The Ministry’s  Twitter account also has no official logo or brand   so the  first question you ask when you land on the page  is: “ Am I in the right space?” What’s even more disconcerting is that while the Ministry has 52 followers, it follows only one, PAHO, which suggests that a fundamental rule of engagement ( speak clearly but  listen  deeply) is not being followed. 


On Saturday, on the Ministry’s  facebook account, I urged the administrator to remember that social media is about community, engagement  and two-way conversation. 


I’ll wait and see what comes out of my recommendation.


2 thoughts on “Political Twitter

  1. It was pointed out to me last night that I have been ranked in 1st place in Trinidad and Tobago, Port of Spain on twitterholics for a corporate profile I established a couple of months ago.
    A small achievement but I am feeling rather delighted with myself because the entire profile was built on a thread about jam sandwiches (It’s a British thing…) But it worked and was successful in that it immediately communicated that I was human…which is the number one rule of using social media. The second rule is knowing what you want to achieve.
    MOH is certainly a classic case of an organisation not establishing its communication objectives before selecting the tools (social media or otherwise) that best drive the message. These are exciting times, what with ‘Bing’ and
    and ‘Ping’ and the promise of Google Wave it’s hard not to want to be involved, to be a part of the technological revolution, but the same rules of building a marketing strategy still apply, know your audience and know your objectives. I think on this occasion however, the twitter platform worked well (despite having only 59 followers) for MOH, but I’m interested to see if MOH’s other messages apart from a message such as the Influenza alert really is suitable for this particular type of social media platform.
    Here’s the science bit, unlike swine flu there’s a cure for MOH!….a dose of imagination – they should consider establishing a sub brand dedicated solely to health alerts, it’s niche and it adds value – this could be just what the doctor ordered to invigorate their social media profile.

  2. They finally put a picture up on twitter not a logo, but a photo of the Min of Health’s sign at their Park Street Office..and this is where I learnt about the 2nd case of H1N1.

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