John McCain and Twitter: Quantity but not necessarily quality

Social media presence is being felt and used more and more in public life and politicians in particular seem to be really catching on to just how useful it can be. However, just because certain politicians, such as John McCain, have a huge following on social media sites, that doesn’t necessarily parallel with the quality of the interaction.

George Washington and New York universities have conducted a joint survey recently which looked into the ‘Digital IQs’ of U.S. senators, according to Newsweek. The study was based on the senators’ presence on sites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, as well as traffic on their own websites and mentions in blogs. The survey found some interesting results.

For example it seems that Republican senators have a greater following than Democrat senators on a similar standing. However the article points out that quantity does not always equate with quality and looks at the social media presence of John McCain as an example. McCain has a greater Twitter and Facebook audience than any other politician not in the White House. Because of the huge amount of Twitter followers he has, some have called McCain a “Twitter Genius.”

The amount of engagement from a Twitter feed was not measured by the survey but the article points out that a look at McCain’s Twitter feed shows that just because the feed is fed often, that doesn’t mean it’s interesting. In fact the Newsweek article says, “To put it bluntly, McCain’s social-media narrative is a bore.” It goes on to suggest a few politicians whose online presence is more engaging, even though they might not have such a big following. These include Newt Gingrich, Claire McCaskill and Sarah Palin, although the latter’s use of language on Twitter recently gained her some criticism.

For more on this go to newsweek.com. Are there any politicians you follow on social media that you think engage with their audience in a successful way? We’d be interested to hear your suggestions so why not send us your comments.