Winston Churchill once said that in war, you can only be killed once, but in politics, many times. What about online? I’ll wager you can be killed on a daily basis but this is where the Irish politicians are finally headed, according to some recent research.
Irish PR company Pembroke Communications carried out a survey looking into the digital habits of TDs and found that the majority (74pc) are already using social networking tools to talk with their constituents.
Eighty-six per cent of the 48 TDs from five parties (FF, GF, Labour, Green, SF) that participated in the survey said that they use Facebook while 42pc use Twitter, 35pc blog to some extent and 11pc use YouTube.
In comparison, only 32pc used social networking tools in the last general election in May 2007.
Should we be hopeful that these TDs plan to reach out to voters in the next general election? Sixty-five per cent plan to tweet as part of their campaign while 96pc are looking at the Facebook userbase – with more than 1.2 million users in Ireland as of January 2010 they have a lot of potential ground to cover.
Unsurprisingly, the majority (88pc) of the TDs quizzed on the subject agreed that social media is changing the dynamic of politics and how the politician communicates with the voter but 60pc still felt that door-to-door canvassing was the most important way to reach the community at large.
"Social media is playing an increasingly important role in political communication and this was particularly evident in the US general election and again in the UK election this year. Even TDs who are not as tech savvy are also embracing these new technologies as a method of reaching their audience," said Michael O’Keeffe, managing director of Pembroke Communications.
By Marie Boran