Posts tagged ‘MEPs’
Reviewing our MEP digital trends survey: fewer bloggers, more Facebook and Twitter users. Why (and so what?)
In our recently published survey on the online habits of Members of the European Parliament, we found that:
- 69% of MEPs use social networks (mainly Facebook) up from 33% in 2009
- 34% are on Twitter, up from 21%
- 29% write a personal blog, compared to 40% in 2009
So we’re witnessing a shift towards the snappy interaction of social networks, and a move away from the more content driven blog.
I’ll look at two things here: i) what might account for this trend; and ii) some ideas on what the trends mean in practice.
Why the shift away from blogging towards social networks and the like?
It’s not hard to see why Facebook and Twitter appear more enticing than blogging:
- They both have ready-made audiences which may likely include MEPs’ constituents. Why bother with blogging, which is more time-consuming and does not have a ready-made audience?
- In that vein, Twitter and Facebook may just seem easier to maintain, given that there isn’t much content to produce. At first glance, writing 140 characters definitely seems a breeze compared to a full-on blog post.
- Election frenzy is over. Back in 2009, MEPs running for re-election were presumably eager to do everything in their power to showcase themselves to their electorate. That incentive is obviously reduced beyond election time.
- The EP’s social media team has been extremely successful on Facebook (their blog is also successful, to be fair). Presumably a shining example to MEPs?
- Facebook is all the rage. 500 million and users and that. Everyone’s talking about Twitter too. So presumably a fair bit of bandwagon hopping has taken place.
What does it all mean?
This is the trickier question. What does all this mean in terms of MEPs’ communication with constituents and others?
On the surface, it seems like good news: MEPs are eagerly adopting tools that connect them to people at the click of a button and provide Europeans a channel to engage in the political process through dialogue with decision makers. Indeed, some MEPs like Marietje Schaake and Sophie in ’t Veld, or Commissioners like Neelie Kroes (no coincidence they’re all Dutch) are engaging in conversation and using Twitter to ask questions and learn, and presumably thus improve their ability to do their job.
However, in another sense, the figures are misleading. Another finding in the report shows that MEPs who blog and tweet think “expressing views directly” is more important than “engaging in dialogue” (by a margin of 60% and 30% in blogs and on Twitter respectively). Clearly, listening, learning and conversing play second fiddle, and you could ask: what’s the point of telling people stuff if you’re doing so in a Facebook feed or in 140 characters? Not much.
As for the drop in blogging, personally speaking I think it’s a shame, although understandable: I know from experience just how hard it is to maintain a blog. However, blogging is a fantastic medium to express views and opinions in more detail, and some MEPs reach large audiences through their blogs, like Dan Hannan and Holger Krahmer. Is the fall in blogging a trend? No, I suspect we’re in a consolidation phase, where the MEPs who appreciate the medium carry on and others who like the idea of blogging give it a go, but where fewer experiment because it’s in vogue.
Another thought is that blogging is a way to kick start conversations on Twitter or Facebook. Which begs the question: if MEPs are not blogging but are instead using Twitter and Facebook, yet many are not engaging in dialogue, what are they using the tools for? Probably to post press releases, or to state that they’ll speak an event and other such information.
In conclusion, although the findings indicate that a number of MEPs are using the channels to engage, we should take them with a slight pinch of salt. Having said that, the trend is for more MEPs to start using the tools “properly” and I have no doubt that the more they see others gaining from engagement, the greater the appropriate adoption rates will become.
Equally, I have no doubt that I’ve missed some observations, so – as ever – please feel free to add, expand, agree or disagree in the comments below. Thanks.
Our survey of the digital habits of Members of the European Parliament is now live at www.epdigitaltrends.eu.
The findings show that MEPs are increasingly using digital channels to reach out and to inform themselves on issues of importance. In parallel, the survey also indicates that personal contact and traditional media remain essential, highlighting to anyone engaging in communications that digital is not replacing established modes of communication, but living alongside them.
Here are ten key findings:
- 69% of MEPs use social networks whereas previously only 33% used social networks extensively.
- 29% write a personal blog, compared to 40% in 2009.
- 34% are on Twitter, up from 21%.
- 57% of Twitter users say the greatest benefit is ‘expressing views directly’ while only 28% chose ‘engaging with people through dialogue’.
- 30% of those who blog and 33% who tweet use two or more languages (English being the predominant second language).
- 99% use search engines every week, 93% every day.
- 80% are looking for simple summaries of issues when searching online.
- 78% think specific issue websites are important when informing their opinion on policy, more than the organisation sites.
- 90% name coverage in national media as an important source of information, 51% of those very important.
- 86% state that position papers from stakeholders are important, while personal contact with stakeholders is still the most important channel for interaction at 93%.
When we last conducted the survey, we were at a pivotal moment: digital in politics seemed to have gone mainstream following the French presidential campaign in 2007 and, in particular, Barack Obama’s successful campaign in 2007-08. Eighteen months on, given that enthusiasm from across the pond had abated and the European Parliament was no longer in election frenzy, we were being asked if 2009 had just been a blip. It’s great to have the figures to confirm that the trends we first detailed in 2009 have persisted, and that MEPs are increasingly connected.
Over the next few weeks we’ll be analysing a few of the findings in more detail e.g. the rise of Facebook vs. the fall in blogging. I hope many of you will be involved in the ensuing discussions, and please, fire away with comments and questions.
Yesterday I was privileged to attend a meeting about the Citizens’ Consultations with a keynote speech from Viviane Reding, Vice President of the Commission. As a discussion about citizen interaction within Brussels policymaking, it was the perfect venue for the announcement by Toute l’Europe of their new website Tweet Your MEP, a tool they developed in cooperation with Europatweets.
Even now there are still some Twitter skeptics around in public affairs. ‘What is the point?’ they ask, ‘surely it’s not as if the MEPs ever reply?’ Well actually some do… But Tweet Your MEP is here to encourage and open up dialogue even more. Each MEP has a profile through which they can be directly tweeted and then reply. It aims to be a host for direct dialogue between MEPs and citizens. The website has an interactive map and thematic search. So new Euro-commenters can find their MEP geographically or the more experienced by which policy area they are interested in.
With its bright and clear design the website should be very accessible. It will be launched in French, German, English and Dutch and a translation feature will make sure that all 27 languages are able to use the site. So far so good, you never know, maybe this tool will help change the way MEPs communicate and show people that they are listening? Either way we will be following with much interest. Log on for the launch at 2pm on 22nd September and see if Tweet Your MEP will live up to our expectations.
Difficult question, one to which we would be tempted to answer: all of them. But as that wouldn’t be of much help, we’ve had a go at making our own selection of the must-read EU political blogs, also known as Euroblogs.
Inspired by previous attempts such as those of NoseMonkey, Jon Worth, the Bloggingportal and Lobby Planet, we’ve created Fleishman-Hillard’s own selection of Euroblogs in our brand new Netvibes page here, for anyone to follow with ease if you don’t do so already. Netvibes is a time-saving tool that allows you to see on one single web page the headlines of all your favourite websites.
We have chosen to classify the blogs in the following categories: journalists, citizens -blogs whose authors write in their personal capacity-, EU officials, Commissioners, MEPs, corporate, and collectively written blogs – including NGOs, think tanks and political parties. As Steffen explained last week, in the current state of the EU blogosphere there are not yet quite enough EU political blogs to make a classification by policy sector, but hopefully this is changing and we’ll soon be able to develop a parallel policy dashboard.
Beyond the author categories we have selected 10 must-read Euroblogs. What are the must-read Euroblogs? The longest-standing? The most read? The most quoted? The most controversial? The most productive? The English-speaking ones? Well, there is no magic formula. Our selection is a combination of objective criteria and insider knowledge of the blogging community. It’s a selection of some of the most emblematic Euroblogs.
Finally, in our selection of top EU political blogs, we have added the feeds of Bloggingportal and Blogactiv. The Bloggingportal’s team of volunteer editors selects the best EU-related blog posts amongst over 600 blogs. You can also subscribe by email to Bloggingportal’s weekly digest here. Taking a look at the articles posted on the blogging platform Blogactiv can also give you an indication of what the trending topics in the EU blogosphere are.
This Euroblog selection will evolve with time for two main reasons:
- The current selection is mainly composed of blogs written in English, with a few additions in French, German and Spanish.
- As recent good-byes announced by Charlemagne’s author and Julien Frisch have shown, the EU blogging community is moving fast. Blogs disappear and emerge all the time.
In short, this is work in progress so feel free to suggest edits or additions! We hope you will find it useful and that it will help you get more familiar with the Euroblogging community.
Pottering’s calm voice may be able to hide his emotions, but we found a nifty digital tool to unmask his true sentiments.
Wordle creates “beautiful word clouds” (their words, not ours) based on a text or website that one inputs. It identifies the most often-used words and makes them larger to show their repetition.
What did Pottering talk to the European Parliament about?
Public Affairs 2.0 should also face up to it’s own obsession. We clearly like the European Parliament as much as Mr Pottering, but the words ‘European’, ‘digital’, ‘public affairs’ are about the same size as Fleishman-Hillard.
European Parliament, digital and public affairs will get another tick in the word count next week when we publish a report on the use of digital tools by MEPs.
For those who have missed it, we’re conducting a survey of MEPs and their digital behaviour. We shall be launching the results on a dedicated micro-site in mid-May. Lots of interesting data (we are currently swimming in pivot tables) from the responses we’ve collated in recent weeks for both MEPs and their staff and the PA community in Brussels and elsewhere.
In case you are feeling that you just can’t wait another couple of weeks and you need a EU survey fix today check out EU Profiler
The survey seeks to tell you where you fit on the political group spectrum -for this former MEP staffer it underlined some of the voting tensions I have experienced in all the elections I have voted in. For my colleagues, there was something of shock that I was still where I started out on the political spectrum.
Following on from our digital audit of MEPS last year, we now want to know which MEPs have caught the Twitter bug…
These are just a few we’ve found so far:
- Graham Watson
- Matthias Groote
- Katrin Saks
- Benoit Hamon
- Eoin Ryan
- Neena Gill
- Arlene McCarthy
- Peter Skinner
- Jim Nicholson
- Mary Honeyball
- Andrew Duff
- Daniel Caspary
- Jules Maaten
- Jeanine Hennis
- Sophie in ‘t Veld
- Daniel Cohn-Bendit
- Åsa Westlund
- Anna Hedh
- Kathalijne Buitenweg
- Helga Truepel
- Colm Burke
- Joost Lagendijk
- Gunnar Hökmark
- Dagmar Roth-Behrendt
- Alexander Alvaro
- Jorgo Chatzimarkakis
- Richard Corbett
- Ed McMillan-Scott
- Rodi Kratsa
- Vincent Peillon
- Urszula Gacek
- Jean luc Bennahmias
- Catherine Trautmann
- Bernadette Vergnaud
If you have come across any, please let us know. We shall update this list as we get new names.
P.S. As we mentioned in a previous post, the utility of Twitter is still not clear to us. We do find Daily Show host John Stewart’s opinion about Twitter quite humorous: “They’re struggling because they confused new with good.”