Tory MPs run into Twitter problems – two tales of social media failings
Most amusingly, Alec Shelbrooke, a relative newbie to Twitter put the gaffe back into social media in a way we haven’t seen since Ed Miliband expressed his sadness in January at the death of Bob Holness the presenter of kids quiz show…’Blackbusters’.
Shelbrooke made his gaffe after announcing his appointment on Twitter as an aide to the new Northern Ireland minister Mike Penning only that’s not quite how his tweet came out.
Shelbrooke Tweeted: “Delighted to have followed Mike Penning to Northern Island.”
Oh dear. In a single Tweet Shelbrooke has made sure the people of Northern Ireland will not forget this junior minister in a hurry.
The Tory MP for the marginal seat of Elmet and Rothwell, in West Yorkshire, blamed his mistake on auto correct and tweeted: “Dam you auto correct. Northern Ireland not Island!!!!”.
Obviously auto correct can’t be blamed for his spelling that resulted in yet more retweets, which he didn’t take kindly to and lashed out.
He tweeted: “Interesting to note so many retweets over a simple mistake, I think that’s the most I’ve ever had. Just goes to show the level of debate!!!!”
The good thing for us is that Shelbrooke, who has tweeted 404 times hasn’t yet worked out that you can also delete tweets:
Delighted to have followed Mike Penning to Northern Island as his PPS
— Alec Shelbrooke (@AlecShelbrooke) September 10, 2012
Dam you auto correct. Northern Ireland not Island!!!! — Alec Shelbrooke (@AlecShelbrooke) September 10, 2012
Interesting to note so many retweets over a simple mistake, I think that’s the most I’ve ever had. Just goes to show the level of debate!!!! — Alec Shelbrooke (@AlecShelbrooke) September 10, 2012
Shelbrooke is not alone on the Conservative benches in getting social media wrong. Yesterday, the Guardian reported how new Conservative chairman, Grant Shapps, MP for Welwyn Hatfield, was engaging in a mass follow and unfollow campaign to artificially boost his number of followers.
The technique, much used in the early days of Twitter, is as useful as buying followers. Sure it gives you a big Twitter following, but big follower counts are just pretty numbers with no depth or real meaning.
Social media window dressing
Having a large follower count means very little if your so called followers never engage with you. They are simple social media window dressing and people always find out what you are up to as we know from the recent case of former Conservative parliamentary candidate Mark Clarke.
He was outed earlier this year as someone who was buying followers to boost his Twitter account.
The paper reported that Shapps at regular intervals increases the number of people he follows by as many as 5,000 and if they do not follow him back, he unceremoniously unfollows them:
Analysis of his activity on Twitter shows regular, sudden surges in the number of people he follows succeeded a week later by a sudden decline. The research was conducted by Yatterbox, a political marketing consultancy firm specialising in monitoring all social media activity of politicians.
Matt Freckleton, managing director of Yatterbox said: “Several people have brought this to our attention and it has already made some press headlines. After doing some research we were able to compile some graphs which suggest that Grant Shapps – or someone with access to Grant’s Twitter account – is regularly and purposely following and unfollowing many thousands of people on Twitter. It is quite normal for anybody to unfollow people on Twitter, but when it is done in such large numbers on such a frequent basis it does raise questions as to what is going on and why,” the Guardian reported.
Using software or doing it manually to follow lots of people is a waste of time. Even if they follow you back they are not interested in your tweets and so the point is what exactly?