Tweet-off at the Frontline Club

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On Tuesday night I attended an incredibly lively and well-tweeted debate at The Frontline Club on the role social media might play in the upcoming UK election . On the panel was Guido Fawkes, of Order-order.com; Chris Condron, head of digital strategy for the Press Association; Alberto Nardelli CEO and co-founder of Tweetminster.com and Channel 4 News presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy. Niall Paterson of Sky News moderated.

With Krishnan toying occasionally with his Blackberry to tweet the progress, the panel discussed what platforms such as Twitter and Facebook will mean for the party leaders. We have already seen examples of politicians pressing ‘send’ in anger, leaving their spin department reeling. Modern politics, like modern brands, need to learn the immediacy and openness of social networks and the associated risks for blunders which go together with the benefits of conversation.

In terms of social media becoming a “game changer”, the overall sentiment was that traditional broadcast media is still the key medium for swaying voters and that social media provided early warning signs, not scoops. Much reference was made to Obama’s digital media campaign and the conclusion was made that while, “if you have a Twitter strategy it’s probably shit”, the parties will need to be “cleverer and quicker” about responding to stories in the battle to the polls.

Overall, the main takeout was that politicians and the parties they represent need to behave more like brands if they are to cut through the noise. A set of unified messages, conveyed on the appropriate platforms by a person with character needs to be the leading strategy, before they even start to reach for their Blackberries. For tweets from the discussion check out the frontlineclub hash tag.

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