Social Media as a communication platform represents a novel and growing space for individuals and groups as well as state and non-state actors. The value of digital data to political parties has resulted in the proliferation of digital products which are revolutionising political campaigning. Academic analysis has tended to focus on institutional reactions to social media and its use in political campaigning. However at the individual level political representatives have increasingly been using social media in innovative and creative ways. This paper seeks to capture and explore this innovation through an appraisal of the use of social media by local councillors. Twitter offers councillors a new political space within which to interact with citizens. This paper is based upon a digital audit of the actions and interactions of councillors of Bristol City Council on twitter. The paper seeks to profile not only who is engaging in this online environment but also through a content analysis suggests a framework to appraise the ways in which they are using twitter. In appraising the ways in which councillors are communicating the paper offers critical insights into the balance between individual, institutional, geographic and party political content and analyses the direction of content in terms of reporting or consulting. Analysis contrasts the potential reach and levels of dialogue being delivered through the use of micro-blogging with those offered by traditional mechanisms. The paper concludes with an assessment of the value of social media as a tool to facilitate and assure accountability, representation and engagement.
This is an archive of a live stream of Thom Oliver speaking at the Digital Local Democracy Panel of the Political Studies Association Annual Conference in Sheffield 31st March 2015.
Oliver, T. (2015, March). Communicating, campaigning and curating: Interrogating councillors’ use of Twitter in the City of Bristol. Presented at Local Politics 4 - Different with Digital: Scenarios for a Rewired Local Democracy, City Hall, Sheffield, UK