MEPs on social media prefer Facebook to Twitter
by Daniel Mason
Facebook is much more popular than Twitter and LinkedIn among members of the European Parliament who use social media for professional purposes, a survey has shown. The study, carried out by British polling company ComRes and Brussels-based communications agency ZN, also found that most MEPs visited online encyclopaedia Wikipedia at least once a month in the course of their work.
The findings were based on interviews with 102 MEPs and 258 so-called 'Brussels influencers' – which include officials in the parliament, European Commission and European Union agencies, as well as journalists, academics and representatives of non-governmental organisations. According to the survey, 70 per cent of MEPs logged on to Facebook at work at least weekly, compared with only 22 per cent of European Commission officials. An even higher figure, 88 per cent of MEPs and 93 per cent of Brussels influencers, used Wikipedia at least monthly.
Twitter was used by only 48 per cent of MEPs and just 39 per cent of other influencers, the results showed. However, an increasing number of senior EU representatives have accounts on Twitter – whether personally or managed by their media team – including 16 of the 27 commissioners, European Council president Herman Van Rompuy and the president of the parliament, Martin Schulz.
Among representatives of business, trade associations and non-governmental organisations, one of the most popular sites was LinkedIn, according to the study, which was published yesterday. But only a fifth of MEPs said they used the professional network weekly. Finally, 82 per cent of influencers said that they never used MySpace.
ComRes chairman Andrew Hawkins said: "It is no longer an option for those seeking to conduct any sort of relationship with policy-makers to rely on traditional forms of communication. The burgeoning use of social media by policy-makers should not be seen as a threat but embraced as a great opportunity to utilise a far more effective and advantageous method of communication."
Phil Weiss, from ZN communications, said the results confirmed the "growing importance of alternative communication channels in the communication mix". He added: "The normalisation of social media tools in everyday life for the EU Brussels crowd requires communicators to rethink their communication approach and start moving with the times. They need to adapt their mindset and habits to this new environment in order to develop the right solutions. Too often we see communicators using an analogue mind in a digital world."
Blaaa. That doesn't tell us much, not least because you haven't linked to the original report. These MEPs logging into Facebook at work - does that mean they are using it for work purposes, or they are logging in while at work? And what about the level of engagement of these people once they have logged in?
Jon Worth - London