"Gentlemen, start your hashtags:" Ever sat up nights wondering which political party spends more time tweeting and which members of Congress do so most effectively? Me, neither.
Still, that didn't stop the social-media gurus at Edelman Digital in Washington, D.C., from lighting up the twalaxy (or "Twitter galaxy," for you newbies) with the results of its new study, "Capitol Tweets: The Yeas and Nays of the Congressional Twitterverse."
Edelman identified five metrics for measuring so-called "Twitter success — engagement, mentions, amplification, follower growth, and tweetlevel influence — and looked at the behaviors that influenced those metrics across key demographics."
Over a period of 112 days spanning from September 2 to December 25, 2011 — who Tweets on Christmas Eve? — the researchers examined 456 member handles who made a total of 59,270 tweets. During that time, the researchers found, congressionaal tweeters had more than 5.1 million followers, more than 1.3 million "mentions" and an average of 130 tweets per handle. And you thought your job was boring.
After all the numbers were crunched, guess who came out as the grand master of the 140-character word form? Vermont's own independent senator, Bernie Sanders, who ranked number one for both overall "influence" and "engagement," number three for "trust" and number four for "popularity." Imagine that: a Brooklyn-born socialist from Vermont tops the list for most engaged and influential member of Congress. That noise you're hearing is the sound of Fox News-watching heads exploding all across the heartland.
However, before Bernie's campaign flacks start printing up new 2012 campaign buttons (as per above) they may want to first take stock of who else ranked high on the list of Twitter trustworthiness. Specifically, Sen. John McCain and Rep. Eric Cantor, both Republicans, topped Bernie as more trustworthy.
What other scintillating tidbits did the Edelman study unearth? Congressional Republicans tweeted "more effectively” than Dems, got more retweets and were generally more substantive than their colleagues across the aisle. Republicans were also 3.5 times more likely to mention specific legislation in their tweets, they included 52 percent more links and nearly 60 percent more multimedia than did the Democrats.
Other generally useless details that were gleaned from the Edelman study: Congressional members from the Northeast were the most likely to have their tweets retweeted; members from the Midwest were the most likely to receive replies; members from the South were the "most vocal" and tweeted more frequently than members from other regions; and members from the West were the most popular and boasted the most followers.
One shocking result from this study: Nearly half the members' tweets included a mention of an opposing political party member, with more than half of those tweets being deemed "collaborative." Too bad that collaborative nature doesn't extend from the virtual world into the real one.
What's the takeway message for voters from all this congressional wordsturbation? In 140 characters or less, "Your tax dollars hard(ly) at work."