10 Twitter Tips for David Cameron #CPC12

David Cameron makes his key note speech at #CPC12As David Cameron gives his speech today at the Conservative Party Conference it comes during his first week on Twitter.

The PM has been off to a flying start quickly hitting 100,000 followers and showing us he can use a hashtag or two and attach plenty of images.

He has also tweeted a preview of his speech telling us he will be “levelling with the British people in my speech at 11.30. It’s sink or swim, do or decline”. The bookies are laying odds of evens that Cameron will today mention Twitter (he didn’t) having previously been less flattering about it.

Like any new Twitter user we’re sure Cameron would welcome a few tips so we’ve put together 10 tips to help him on his way.

1. Develop a thick skin

Twitter is renowned for harsh opinions; many celebrities will tell you that people don’t hold back on personal attacks. David Cameron must have known is presence would cause a backlash but that shouldn’t put him off. If the account is shut down it will look like he’s running scared. Handled correctly, he could do a lot to change perceptions (check out this Storify to see some of the “welcome tweets the PM received).

2. Acknowledge

In a crisis the worst thing a brand can do is pretend nothing is happening. It’s clear for everyone to see that @David_Cameron is getting a beating but he’s ignoring it. He should acknowledge that a lot of people have strong opinions and that they are entitled to them, but he welcomes serious feedback.

3. Engage

Since joining Twitter at the weekend David Cameron has tweeted 9 times and replied to…. no one. Broadcasting your messages without engaging is missing the point of Twitter. Yes he is going to get a lot of abuse but there are people making serious comments who deserve recognition.


4. Resource

It would probably be a full time job managing what seems to be a controversial presence. SO IT SHOULD BE. We warn clients against getting involved in social media if they do not have the processes in place to manage it properly – frustration caused by ignoring people does more harm than not being there at all. Mr Cameron certainly has more important things to do than look at Twitter all day but with the right level of support he could be guided through the volume of tweets to respond to serious tweeters.   

5. Open your world

Are there really only 34 people in the world that David Cameron wants to hear from? By just following conservative MPs he is showing that he doesn’t care about anything outside his own backyard. There are millions of inspiring and educational people he could follow to show his personal and professional interests. And as someone accused of not being a man of the people, he could use Twitter to understand people from all walks of life in Britain.    

6. Content, content, content

The world is watching, and David Cameron tweets about the number of followers he has. Yes he wants to show his human side but he should be using this profile to represent his role as Prime Minister, especially at such a high profile time for the party. A lot of the people following him will probably not be supporters so he has a real chance to get his points across and he seems to be squandering it. 

7. Ask

All social media professionals know that giving fans a focus point to reply to generates a more constructive response. Given the initial reaction to his account taking a leaf out of Boris’s book (with his #askboris hashtag) wouldn’t be the wisest idea, but asking for feedback to specific questions will get (some) genuine answers and allow him to justify his policies.

8. Listen

Social media monitoring can help brands develop their strategies with genuine customer insight. Its clear David Cameron has an image problem but Twitter is a great opportunity to find out exactly why, and to try and do something about it. 

9. Show you’ve listened

All eyes will be on the Prime Minister during his party conference speech. Weaving his recent Twitter experience in will give him a chance to show he’s not just on the network to talk about himself and his promotional activity but wants to use it as a force for change. He should reference particularly salient tweets, good and bad, demonstrate that he’s listening and wants to do something to address the challenges.

10. Innovate

Brands do a great job of using social media to give fans a window into their world. David Cameron should use Twitter to really connect with people and for them to connect with him. Open the door on being Prime Minister by using all the tactics at his disposal; photos, video, hashtags, live tweeting, maps, mash-ups, conversations, comment, surveys. Embrace the opportunities.

Kate McCoy is head of social media at Work Club.