Is Gordon Brown the first head of government to Twitter?

Yesterday, DowningStreet started to Twitter. The bio describes it as “The official twitter channel for the Prime Minister’s Office based at 10 Downing Street” and gives the web address of the official PM’s site at www.pm.gov.uk.

Of course it isn’t actually Gordon Brown sitting at the keyboard or tapping away on his mobile (in fact I seem to remember that when Gordon became PM he had to give up his personal mobile as all the PM’s calls need to be logged).

But that’s not what this should be about. The social media and social network purists will possibly criticise the move because the PM isn’t properly taking part in the community. But come on, get real people. He’s got a big enough job running the country.

If it is being done by someone close enough to Gordon in his office then that is good enough for me. However, at the moment you don’t get that impression. The eight posts to date are incredibly dull and uninformative – even for a political junkie like me.

If this is to work then it needs to give an insight into Gordon’s personality and what makes him tick. “The Prime Minister is greeting President Nicolas Sarkozy at the front door of 10 Downing Street” tells me absolutely nothing of interest.

What was Gordon thinking? What was he doing? That would make the Twitter channel work.

If it is to be a news channel then that’s fine as well. But at the moment it doesn’t do either very well. “No10 news: France and Britain pledge school places: The Prime Minister and French Preside… http://tinyurl.com/27sjzl” tells me nothing much.

That’s probably because it is created using Twitterfeed from the PM’s existing RSS feeds.

So far there are only 23 followers (it was single figures when I joined) and it is following nobody. It will be interesting to see if it does do any following. If it is a success and enough people start following then it would be unrealistic to expect real interaction and community. But, what you could do is monitor and mine the followers to glean insight into what they are talking about and therefore what matters to them. That would provide useful information as to what to Twitter about and also provides the potential for a quick, dirty and easy online focus group.

Edelman’s Marshall Manson also has a post, as does Simon Dickson who alerted me to the story with his Tweet (incidentally it’s hard to credit a Tweet and comment in 140 characters).

UPDATE: To be crystal clear, even though I’ve already said it above. I (245 followers) was NOT the first to Tweet or blog this story. That honour goes to Simon Dickson (39 followers) at 12:04 yesterday, mine was second at 13:18. It was just that mine got picked up by Marshall Manson (followers 150), which in turn was picked up by Steve Rubel (4627 followers). I think it’s down to the number of followers.


About Stuart Bruce

International communications consultant and PR trainer specialising in online public affairs, digital corporate communications, online PR and social media; frequent national media commentator and conference speaker.
  • Graham Davis

    The Governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm, also has a Twitter stream at: http://www.twitter.com//govgranholm. She beat the PM to Twitter by about a week, but I don't think many other politicians use it (outside of when they're campaigning).

  • Graham Davis

    The Governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm, also has a Twitter stream at: http://www.twitter.com//govgranholm. She beat the PM to Twitter by about a week, but I don't think many other politicians use it (outside of when they're campaigning).

  • http://puffbox.com Simon Dickson

    Whatever happened to quality, not quantity?! :)

  • http://johnbakersblog.co.uk John Baker

    Haven't politicians been twittering ever since they were invented?

  • http://johnbakersblog.co.uk John Baker

    Haven't politicians been twittering ever since they were invented?