Nine Greats/Gaffes By Politicians On Social Media

Source: Jeremy Corbyn

Source: Jeremy Corbyn

Grace looks at the social media interactions of politicians and decides whether their attempts are awesome or awful.

Social media is a tough one to get right. Curating accounts to present the funniest, best looking, and most knowledgeable version of yourself gets tiring for all us and there are always going to be hits and misses. So when politicians – who are often thought as (respectfully) uninteresting – dabble in social media, things can get very interesting very quickly. Who’s doing it right or wrong? That’s exactly what you’re going to find out.

1) Ed Balls

Some call him Ed Balls. He also calls himself Ed Balls… Confused? Balls is the originator when it comes to politicians and their embarrassing social media antics. At 4.20pm on 28th April, 2011 Balls tweeted his own name and nothing else. Was it a cryptic message to himself in the future? Well, not quite. He tried to Twitter search his name and put it in the wrong box, accidentally tweeting his name as a result (and was completely unaware that he could delete it).

Successful? The initial tweet was a blunder, but its astonishing afterlife is worth acknowledging. Twitter recently celebrated the fourth anniversary of #EdBallsDay and even Balls reluctantly joins in every year.

It’s become such a Twitter staple that some have begun to worry about the joke losing its true meaning.

2) Jeremy Corbyn

After members of the public told Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn that Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) is ‘out of touch’ and ‘too theatrical’, Corbyn took to Twitter (and email) to ask for submissions to put to David Cameron.

Successful? Yes. Corbyn has been praised for making PMQs about the people and restoring honesty to politics. Side note: When chatter in last week’s proceedings interrupted Corbyn, he threw a cutting glance at Tories. Of course the Internet found this hilarious and immortalised the ‘side-eye’ in the hallowed halls of Vine loops.

Credit: Ned Simpson

3) David Cameron

This tweet caused such confusion that people genuinely thought it was an accident or fake. After finding it was real, Twitter responded to the tweet with humour, sarcasm and outrage.

Successful? Hardly. What Cameron meant to be his honest opinion came off as embarrassingly over-dramatic and borderline libelous.

4) George Ferguson

Bristol’s first elected Mayor George Ferguson is the epitome of personality on social media. Aside from the x on the end of his Twitter handle that makes him seem very down with Internet lingo (GeorgeFergusonx), all tweets are his own. You can ask him questions, see what he’s up to and he’ll even retweet you if your belongings go missing.

Successful? Ferguson’s friendly approach is genuine, and makes it easy to get to know the personality behind the official status of his job.

5) David Cameron (again)

David Cameron seems to have a very hard time on social media. Who can forget #PigGate? When reports of Cameron’s university exploits came to light, Britons of all political persuasions were united in the cause of giving the PM a hard time.

Successful? He didn’t personally address the incident but the trending topic probably embarrassed the PM who ignored the scandal altogether. On the other hand, the scandal gave Cameron some semblance of street cred. Could #PigGate be the new #EdBallsDay?

6) Barack Obama

American teenager Ahmed Mohamed was arrested after his teacher assumed the clock he brought in to show her was a bomb; an assumption many believe was connected to his heritage and his name. President of the United States Barack Obama sent a tweet encouraging Ahmed’s interest in science and invited him to the White House, inadvertently criticizing the unnecessary action of Ahmed’s school and police.

Successful? Obama’s disregard for how Ahmed was stereotyped proved that politicians don’t have to defend actions they don’t agree with, even if they’re opinion is as influential as his. Plus, #Brobama stuck to his word, and Ahmed met him at The White House Astronomy Night.

7) Norm Kelly

Mayor of Toronto waded into Drake and Meek Mill’s beef over accusations of Drake’s use of a ghostwriter. Kelly, who regularly tweets Drake and called him a ‘hero’, banned Mill from Toronto, prompting Mill to call the Mayor a ‘thug’ – the cool kind.

Successful? Even if you don’t like Drake you can’t deny Kelly’s ride or die attitude. It’s inspiring.

8) Diane Abbott

Diane Abbott is the Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington. Her Twitter feed consistently informs followers on important matters including budgets, race and what’s happening in the House of Commons. However, she isn’t afraid to entertain some subtle snark if necessary.

Successful? Absolutely. We want politicians to be respectful, but a little sarcasm never hurt anybody.

9) Michelle Obama

She may not be the politician in office, but her husband’s presidency would be not be the success it is without her input. Her initiatives tackle healthy living, and encourage higher education and her most recent venture Let Girls Learn promotes the education of girls around the world. Speaking at a panel recently, Obama got frank about letting boys get in the way of girls’ success.

Successful? Michelle gets youth culture and this isn’t the first time her wise words have been recited and reblogged in praise of her girl power. Whether it’s telling young girls they should be competing with boys not worrying about them or dancing in videos with Beyoncé, she knows how to use the Internet to make a change.

Good or bad, just like politicians above, we’re all still learning the rules of social media. Sometimes we get it right, and other times it can go very, very wrong. Ultimately, social media is a uniting force, even if the scenario we’re united over isn’t so great.

Have you had any social media hits and misses? We want to hear about it – @rifemag

Flex your networking skills at Ask About Me  this weekend.