What Twitter Clients do Senators Use?

I was curious what clients our US Senators were using to manage their twitter communications: something sophisticated? An integrated package that allowed them to track engagement?

Well … not really.  For the most part, the Senators are using the web interface to Twitter:

What client software are US Senators using with Twitter?

(Click on chart to enlarge)

The only software that counts as being reasonably sophisticated is Hootsuite, which is a web application that allows you to create, schedule, track, and analyze your tweets. Less than 10% of the tweets came through Hootsuite, though, with 21 senators using HootSuite for at least some of their messages.  Congratulation to the 21 members of the avant garde!

I’m kind of surprised there isn’t some sort of best practices standard for senators to use for Twitter at this point. I can understand using a mobile client for in-the-moment tweeting — it’s great to capture spontaneous observations and (especially) photographs.  But for back in the office (and often staffer driven) tweeting, using the web should only be a last resort.

With the disclaimer that I am only a satisfied customer, let me suggest why Hootsuite would be a better choice:

  • It’s cheap
  • It allows for better control over tweeting — you can have a bunch of staffers author proposed tweets but then one (or more) approve them
  • It allows you to schedule tweets.  If you have a brainstorm at 3am, it’s probably not the time to send that tweet (unless you are working on new insomnia legislation 🙂 )
  • It allows you to track engagement with tweets.  When people click on the links (there’s a link in every tweet, right? right?), you know which tweet did it.  That helps you be a better Twitter user
  • It gives you reports on your Twitter usage and engagement.
  • You look more professional, and I won’t call you out on using the web.  You don’t want to be a white-belt Twitter user forever.
  • Did I mention it allows you to track your engagement? And it’s cheap?
Sorry for pulling out the soap box!


The boring stuff: For each of the Senators who have a twitter account (see here), I retrieved their most recent 200 tweets (For Senator Inhofe, that goes back to 2008!) and tallied up what client was used for each.



The Florida Senate Race on Twitter

[For an update on this topic, see this more recent post]

While most of the media attention is focused on the GOP Presidential Primary, we have a very important GOP primary in Florida for Senator coming up mid-august.  And there’s three main candidates in the running: George LeMieux, Mike McCalister, and Connie Mack.  Let’s take a look at how they’re engaging with Twitter — and how Twitter is engaging back.

First, let’s look at the weekly tweets from each campaign:

Tweets per week by Florida GOP Senate Hopefuls

(Click on chart to enlarge)

LeMieux and Mack are more or less neck and neck, while McCalister has been much quieter.

Let’s see how this has affected the number of followers each candidate has:

Twitter Followers for Florida GOP Senate Hopefuls

(Click on chart to enlarge)

We can see that Connie Mack is in the lead, with George LeMieux having about two thirds as many, and Mike McCalister having only a little over one fifth the followers of Mack.

So, should we expect the same in mentions — the number of tweets other people send about the candidates?  Following is a one time activity, but mentioning is an ongoing process, and is a true measure of enthusiasm.  Let’s look at that enthusiasm:

Twitter @ mentions for Florida GOP Senate Hopefuls

(Click on chart to enlarge)

Wow! Connie Mack has a hugely larger engagement with voters on Twitter.  He is pulling way ahead of the others.

Yes, it’s still a long way until August 15th, but let’s not forget that Marco Rubio used Twitter to out flank Charlie Crist 2 years ago.  Crist never engaged in social media effectively, and therefore didn’t see the forces that Rubio was massing there that eventually pushed Crist out of the party.

Each of the three senatorial candidates should think long and hard about their engagement strategy — there’s plenty of time to ramp it up, but you don’t want to wait too long…

Twitter reacts to the Trayvon Martin shooting

Trayvon Martin’s shooting in central Florida has generated a great deal of anger and protest, with a huge protest rally taking place in Sanford, FL yesterday.  And the protest has taken place on Twitter as well, with huge volumes of tweets being sent and resent.

Looking at yesterday, we can see that nearly 200,000 tweets were sent on the topic.  Here’s a graph of the volume of tweets during the day (you can click on any of these charts to see larger versions):

Tweets during the day of 3/20 on the topic of Trayvon Martin

What’s interesting is the explosion of re-tweets towards the end of the day.  This is like an avalanche picking up speed — the initial bolders dislodge other bolders, until the side of the mountain is slipping down to the valley.

We can get a sense of who’s being retweeted by looking at the list of people mentioned in the tweets, the user in the RT @user:

User PrettyBoyJake made one tweet, at 5:18 pm, which said “R.I.P. To The Young 17 Year Old Boy Trayvon Martin From Florida Who Was Shot & Killed By A Racist Neighborhood Watchman #RT To Show Respect” and got nearly 6000 retweets.

At 9:13pm, user _MacKISSES tweeted “R.I.P. Trayvon retweet to show respect ! http://t.co/p9w4zJ7c” — and that tweet caused the spike we see during the 21:00 (9pm) and 22:00 (10pm) hours with over 8000 retweets.

The right message at the right time can generate a huge response on twitter!

There were a couple of hashtags that stood out:

I think the “#rt” hashtag is interesting — it’s asking people to retweet.

Finally, a look at the top 50 words used across all the tweets (“stop” words  — the, and, etc. — not included):

It’s not surprising that “Trayvon” is at the top, FYI, as that was a search term used to identify the tweets — every tweet analyzed used that word. (Click on the chart to see a larger version).

All told, I analyzed 181,622 tweets that had been sent yesterday, 3/20, between midnight and midnight, EDT.  The volume is impressive, and the 61% or so that were retweets (I was fairly strict in defining what is a retweet) show that retweets are a powerful way of demonstrating support for a topic, somewhat akin to the “Like” button in Facebook or signing a petition at Change.org.