The Use, Misuse and Non-Use of Twitter

It is no secret that the hottest item in the news these days in the province of Quebec has been the student protests over tuition hikes and Bill 78. Among the plethora of articles and opinions, one recently caught my eye: provincial politicians have not been utilizing Twitter to its fullest extent and to their advantage during time.

It is clear that Twitter has played a huge role these last few weeks, as public protests have been organized more spontaneously, with the Montreal police and public transportation system keeping the population abreast of developments as affected by the protests. Twitter has also allowed rumours of all sorts to run rampant during these times.

Critics believe that the government has missed a somewhat golden opportunity to reach out to a portion of the population who no longer turns to traditional media. While there is currently a lot of politics-bashing going on in social media, the government has not made use of this forum to reach out and get its own message across. Other political parties are not capitalizing on the anti-government sentiment floating around. Others say that it is probably best that the government not let itself be dragged into Twitter posts or rants. So, is social media the new way forward or a must when it comes to politics?


  1. Whether in politics or business, you have to communicate where your intended audience will see it. IMHO the question is not whether a government or business should use twitter or other social media, the question is how to use it most effectively. There are ways to get one’s point across without getting mired in the muck of rants.

  2. There’s an important distinction between politicians who tweet as politicians and governments as government.

    Politicians are major social media adopters. At the municipal level at least, this is is often to the bane of the corporations they govern.

    Governments are slower to adopt social media for government use, though are getting there. Coincidentally, Brian Lambie of Redbrick Communications published a survey of Ontario social media use by municipalities yesterday. You can download it here: It shows that 44% of Ontario municipalities are using social media, up 650% in the last two years.

    My interest has been in helping governments use social media well. Allowing for messages that are communicated by individuals outside of the communications department is fine, but there should be a control framework in place that identifies who can speak on behalf of government and how.