Report: Republicans Outpace Democrats in Twitterverse

Posted March 26, 2012 at 4:32pm

Though lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have embraced social networking as a way to communicate with their constituents, Republicans might be doing it better.

A 20-page report released late last week by Edelman Digital, the new-media arm of the global public relations firm, shows that Republican Members on Capitol Hill are outpacing their Democratic counterparts in the world of Twitter.

Studies have been done on Twitter’s role and influence in shaping opinion and engaging the public, but Edelman says this is the first report that has sought to identify elected officials’ Twitter “behavior” and establish “metrics for success on Twitter” for them.

Studying 456 Congressional Twitter accounts, the firm found that Republicans are exceeding on all the “success metrics”: engagement, mentions, amplification and follower growth.

Congressional Republicans on Twitter have their tweets replied to twice as often as Democrats and are mentioned more often.

Republicans also had an edge in analyses done through TweetLevel, a tool built by Edelman to score levels of “influence,” “engagement,” “popularity” and “trust” on Twitter — though liberal Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who caucuses with Democrats, had the highest ratings for “influence” and “engagement.”

Republicans tweeted 52 percent more links than Democrats and mentioned specific pieces of legislation 3.5 times more than their colleagues across the aisle. They also used more hashtags than Democrats — a way to help elevate the visibility of certain keywords and causes — and included pictures and videos to make their communications more colorful.

There’s nothing inherently ideological about such activities, though, and anyone can employ such tactics to raise their Twitter potential, the report’s authors contend.

“Members of Congress don’t have to be Republican … to be successful on Twitter,” the report reads. “We dug deeper into the quality of Members’ tweets and identified controllable, adoptable behavior that correlate with successful outcomes.”

But Republican leadership was quick to claim victory today.

“House Republicans continue to dominate on social media,” Speaker John Boehner press office proclaimed in a blast email, citing multiple examples of the ways the Ohio Republican’s office has used Twitter to its advantage.