Today’s Daily Telegraph has an article, Twitter costs Lord Mandelson’s department £3,175 a year, reporting the UK Department for Business’s calculation of the cost of its employees spent running three Twitter accounts (@bisgovuk, @digitalbritain, @BIS_Science), which have amassed a respectable total of 9,894 followers.
The tone of some of the article is reminiscent of the slightly cynical coverage given recently to a “survey” alleging that Twitter cost the British economy £1.38 billion a year (mentioned in the article; see my post), and also cites the government’s appointment earlier this year of a so-called ‘Twitter Tsar’ or Director of Digital Engagement.
However, at least the article also reports the Department’s view of the value of Twitter:
“We think it is very cost-effective. Twitter is no longer used just by kids. It is a great way of getting our message out to a different audience and it helps us respond to people’s queries quickly.”
(I was slightly concerned that the spokesman apparently believes Twitter was once the preserve of ‘kids’ – until very recently, most surveys showed adults were the major Twitter adopters with teenagers shunning micro-blogging and using texts and Facebook instead.)
Twitter? Tried it, didn’t get it, gave up …
“A cynic is a man who knows the cost of everything, but the value of nothing.” —Oscar Wilde
The revelations follows a question by the Conservative MP Adam Afriyie, shadow minister for science and innovation, according to Wikipedia founder of an IT company and surely bound to be something of a geek…. Not quite.
Yes, @AdamAfriyie started using Twitter in late February and kept up a steady flow of not particularly interesting Tweets – 63 in total – mainly about his meetings and constituency duties through to 6 June. But what is striking about Mr Afriyie’s output is how there was almost nothing useful. It contains no links to information, no retweets and no replies to anyone – indeed, he follows just one other Twitter account (@Tweetminster). That he no longer tweets is probably a relief to his 462 followers (and if we are fixated on Twitter ‘costs’, I calculated his tweets ‘wasted’ the UK taxpayer about £17!).
For the sake of political balance, I looked to see if his Labour opposite number performs any better. Lord Drayson (@lorddrayson) is an altogether more accomplished Twitter user, amassing over 880 tweets to date and over 4,600 followers, with lots of retweets, links and replies to followers. The 488 Twitter accounts that Lord Drayson follows also say a lot about his Parliamentary responsibilities, including social media opinion-formers Mashable, WiredUK and TechCrunch and institutions such as NESTA; he also follows a certain Adam Afriyie….
Well, at least I now know which of these politicians has a firm grasp of the value of Twitter.