The Labour Party seems to have the lead over its rivals on Twitter, if not in the polls, according to a new report. Labour has 113,201 followers, more than both the Conservatives (36,874) and Lib Dems (32,202) combined.

The Tweetminster report on Twitter and UK politics, just released, analyses Twitter followers, number of MPs tweeting, and other Twitter-related stats for the main political parties in the UK.

Findings from the report

  • Labour has the lead here too, as 59% of MPs on Twitter are Labour, compared to 23% Liberal Democrats and 13%
    Conservative, while the report states that Labour MPs and parliamentary candidates are in general more active, and attract more mentions than their rivals.
  • Having senior party figures on Twitter can make a difference. Conservative Chairman Eric Pickles and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg all have better Twitter metrics than their partys’ average. 
  • The
    Conservatives’s official party account has significantly greater reach than those of the other
    main parties, and their posts tend to attract more mentions and retweets than the established media and key bloggers mentioned in the report.

How has Labour adapted to Twitter?

The Labour Party certainly seems to have adopted Twitter into its campaigning strategy more quickly than the other parties, so how has it done this? 

According to Labour new media strategist Mark Hanson:

A year ago we built into the web creator platform (i.e.
the system that enables activists, candidates, MPs to create web
content) the ability  to automatically tweet a story, making it partly responsible for getting so many Labour representatives
on there. We have also run training sessions with them on how to most
effectively use Twitter – ie using it  to engage, not just broadcast

Mark does accept that Labour hasn’t been using its official Twitter account as effectively as it might, but says the party has started to change this over the last week:

Whereas before we used it simply as a way to highlight our news stories, in the last week alone we have welcomed #mobmonday after spotting our supporters work on that, started to monitor those saying they were joining/donating to the Party and thanking them via the account, begun to tweet every day the most recent reasons people have given for
joining, and we also asked people via Twitter to suggest a name for our new iphone app.

While some are portraying the upcoming ‘Twitter election’ as a battle between the Conservative party machine and Labout grassroots activisits, it seems to me that Labour’s new media team has simply come to terms with Twitter more quickly than rival parties. Whether this has any effect on how people actually vote remains to be seen though.