America is waiting; waiting for leaders to step up and lead. We see it all the time on Twitter: a prominent political leader says something meaningful on Twitter and millions of people retweet it and discuss it.
Well, in my dreams this happens.
But it is clear that there are political thought leaders on both sides of the aisle who are using Twitter to influence the press and the people. Having worked in progressive politics for many years, I get a sense that the top dogs on the right have more fully embraced Twitter than the top dogs on the left.
On the right, for example, @KarlRove, former Deputy Chief of Staff for President George W. Bush, has been on Twitter for five years (since 1/8/09). He has 566,000+ followers, a Klout score of 86 and he tweets several times a day. On the left, @JohnPodesta, former Chief of Staff for President Bill Clinton has been on Twitter barely a year (since 1/8/13). He has 8,000+ followers, a Klout score of 67 and tweets a few times a week (and only once since December 18, 2013).
This is but one of many examples where top leaders on the right simply jumped into Twitter way ahead of their progressive counterparts. And as a result, they have big audiences who love to retweet them.
Part of the right’s secret sauce is Twitchy.com. Twitchy right-wing Twitter curation website created by right-wing pundit Michelle Malkin. Malkin has spawned legions of followers who retweet anything she puts out there. And she often shares the tweets of conservative leaders with her minions.
On the left, we have Upworthy.com. Like Twitchy, it is a curation site for progressive social media memes. But Upworthy has fewer messages from the top to share than Twitchy. What we need is more leaders on Twitter… TWEETING INTERESTING STUFF!
I can’t speak to why Rove got into Twitter, but I know that I was regularly trying to convince John Podesta to use Twitter since BEFORE Rove started Tweeting. Eventually, Podesta started to tweet. It wasn’t due to my efforts, but he got there, nevertheless. All I know is that if he starts to use Twitter in earnest, he will be able to drive the national conversation. Too bad he didn’t start a few years earlier.
There are certainly examples of relative parity between counterparts on the left and right. Over in the House, @SpeakerBoehner has 606,000+ followers and a Klout of 80. His counterpart across the aisle, @NancyPelosi has 441,000+ followers and a Klout of 91. Both have been on Twitter for more than 5 years.
In general, after years of pushing and cajoling from digital political strategists, Congress got it. All of the Members of the House and nearly every Senator have joined Twitter (even if many don’t actually tweet themselves).
But progressives need more leadership on Twitter than just our elected officials. Politicians can only provide so much leadership and not every kind. We need the leaders of our policy advocacy groups and think tanks on Twitter. We got the liberal press, the organizers and the activists tweeting. But we need the CEOs and Executive Directors and the Presidents, too.
And that is my mission… to get the top dogs of the progressive movement on Twitter. And then I will retweet them.
Social Advocacy & Politics is a weekly, exclusive column for Social Media Today by Alan Rosenblatt that explores the intersection of politics and social media. Look for the next installment next Tuesday morning.