How influential is Twitter in an election?

We love social media at GREEN and encourage our clients to use it as a means of engaging with customers and joining in the conversation about their brands.
So with more than 2.5 million UK users currently using Twitter and millions of daily Tweets, it’s hard to ignore the influence of social media site Twitter on conversation around Election 2010.
Already several social media websites including TweetMinster and Tweetlection built by Leeds-based digital agency Sense Internet are giving the odds on who might win the election based on the number of Tweets being made by and about each party.
This seems a bit presumptuous and begs the questions what influence will Twitter have on the election campaign?
The bods at Edelman have created TweetLevel. They say: "This tool is still in beta. Even though we believe that it goes a great way to understand and quantify the varying importance of different people's usage of Twitter, by no means whatsoever do we believe we have fully solved the 'influence' problem.
So while some candidates who we have been following have clearly embraced Twitter others have done so to a lesser degree. Take Shipley where the Tories Philip Davies - @PhilipDavies422 - is holding on to a tiny majority. His Tweets are all one-sided, old-style broadcasts nor is he particularly engaged. He has 165 followers but has only chosen to follow 21 - you would think he would want all the friends. He has done 49 updates.
By contrast the Labour candidate Susan Hinchcliffe - @SHinchcliffe - has 428 followers, is following 339 and has updates 2009. So she’s engaged and engaging and is dealing with the trolls too.
Now based on this one might be forgiven for thinking that on Tweets alone Hinchcliffe has got it in the bag. But the reality is that most of her Tweets are about her pounding the streets and knocking on doors. In one she complains of being bitten by a dog.
She clearly understands that social media will not swing this election it will be won on hard, traditional campaigning. However, Twitter just might influence the conversation and highlight what the electorate are really concerned about. Either way it’s a great tool for coordinating a campaign and brining people together.

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