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Mark It Down: Jan 2009 Is When Conservatives Migrated to Twitter

Item #1:

I’m seeing more conservative people on twitter then there used to be, just me or anyone else?

January 19, 2009

Item #2:

@vannschaffner #tcot #hhrs Cutting to the chase, if Twitter of 2009 existed in 2007, would McCain have gotten more votes? #sgp

January 21, 2009

Item #3:

Karl Rove is on Twitter: @karlrove

January 10, 2009

I’ve written previously about the #TCOT Report, which is a hashtag-based community for Twitter conservatives, and Karl Rove being on Twitter. Both of those posts have been ongoing hits in terms of traffic. And courtesy of hashtags.org, here’s the 30-day trendline for the #TCOT hashtag (last day Jan. 29 is a partial day total):

tcot-30-day-trendline-jan-2009

What I’m seeing is a growing movement by conservatives to leverage the power of Twitter. The #TCOT trendline is an indication of conservative uptake of Twitter. It’s not surprising, because I think Twitter is a natural for conservatives.

Twitter = Real-Time, Community

My view about conservatives and Twitter is formed by the popularity of Rush Limbaugh, believe it or not. Although I tend to be in the blue column in politics, at times I’ve listened to ol’ Rush on the radio over the years. Democratic friends and family would ask, “why?” First and foremost, he’s an entertainer who uses conservatism as his currency. He can crack me up.

But second, there really wasn’t a place to go if you wanted to hear a rich, opinionated commentary on politics. I suppose there were forums out there, but they lacked spontaneity and seemed like heavy, overly threaded diatribes by a lot of people you didn’t want to read. But you could turn on the radio and get opinions on what was happening that day, with callers screened by the Rush Limbaugh program. And their screening was pretty good, I wanted to hear what these dittoheads had to say (mostly…).

Enter Twitter.

Free form snippets of observation about the news of the moment. Rather than take in a threaded conversation, you can consume a bunch of observations, freed from the theme of a forum thread. As news emerges, sourced from traditional media or other twitterers, the hive adjusts.

You also get participation from high-profile types like Michelle Malkin, who I’m guess doesn’t venture into forums much. So you have a community of like-minded people that you want to follow (as opposed to forums), and the views of high-level people are included in that mix.

The Rush Limbaugh program provides the views of a single celebrity and a few callers, with topics reflecting the latest news. Twitter expands on this dramatically. And anyone can get in on the action, not just the few callers that make it onto Rush’s program.

There’s Going to Be Lots to Tweet About

Look at that graph at the top of this post. The tweets tagged with #TCOT build up daily, peaking on January 28, 2009. Which the date that Barack Obama’s stimulus package went  to vote in the House of Representatives. It passed, but received no votes from Republicans. Clearly, conservatives were energized by the bill, and the #TCOT tweets reflect that.

As the party out of power, Republicans are going to have lots of such opportunities for community discussions and rallies. The current base of conservative twitters will have plenty to talk about. And I’m sure they will attract many more users in the months and years ahead.

Of course, if you’re not of the conservative bent, you can ignore all of this. Twitter is good for maintaining your own communities.

But I’m personally not surprised to see a growing conservative movement on Twitter. And hey remember, House elections are coming up in 2010.

*****

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Karl Rove Is on Twitter

Everyone’s favorite White House adviser, Karl Rove, is now on Twitter: KarlRoveChannel

UPDATE:  Karl Rove has gotten more real. He’s dropped the “Channel” part of his Twitter handle. Now he’s just: KarlRove

Naturally, when  you hear something like this, you want proof. You can see people wondering about this on this FriendFeed entry about this. And here’s a great write up from the #TCOT Report. Below is a screen shot from Rove’s own website:

karl-rove-website-twitter-account

So what is he tweeting? Here are a couple tweets.

#1: I2 Debate: Is George W. Bush the worst American President of the last 50 years? http ://tinyurl.com/7pvwxh

I’ve got to give him credit for tweeting something like that. Even if he is on the show where they discuss it.

#2: @livedesk I give the IL House points for speed although they should have worked this fast on setting a special elect ion to fill the vacancy.

Again, that was a fairly neutral observation.

It’s early for Karl, we’ll see how long he stays with this. Looks serious about it. And he will of course be the recipient of a lot of slams. Of course, he can just not follow people and block as needed.

Very cool in general – he’s not just talking to people in the TV studios.

The Drudge Report Meets Twitter: The TCOT Report

tcot-report

The Republican revolution will be tweeted…

I’m guessing you’ve not heard about the TCOT Report. I hadn’t until yesterday. It just started this month. But it got my attention, because it’s a really innovative use of Twitter for grass roots idea generation and discussions. Social media skeptics rail against the echo chamber of geeks talking to one another about how grand social media is. So when non-geeks start leveraging social media’s best characteristics to improve things, it warrants attention.

OK, so what is TCOT?

Top Conservatives on Twitter

At its core, TCOT is a site that tracks the top conservatives on Twitter. As TCOT founder Michael Leahy describes it:

This list was first placed on the web on November 28, 2008. In the short time since then, it has become a bit of a rallying point for conservatives on Twitter. I think all of us who are on the list can conceive of many additional ways to improve the list to strengthen and grow the conservative community on Twitter.

You must primarily tweet on conservative themes and cannot be merely a “campaign profile” “political office holder profile” or a “radio or television program or publication promotional profile” to be on this list. New participants are welcome. Just nominate someone you follow or yourself and show that you are primarily on Twitter as a conservative.

Hats off to Leahy on this. It appears anyone, not just those with authority, can be included in the list, so long as you talk conservative themes. Here are the top ten conservatives on Twitter right now:

tcot-top-ten

The list itself is a resource for other conservatives looking to find like-minded people on Twitter.

What I found interesting was the TCOT Report.

TCOT Report: Crowdsourced Drudge Report

Leahy has set up the TCOT Report to track the news, opinion and discussion around conservative principles and politics. The real-time element of the TCOT Report is a continuous stream of tweets based on the hashtag #TCOT. Anyone can join in, as they are using the Twitter search function for this. To confirm this, I did a #TCOT tweet. Sure enough, it showed up:

tcot-feedAnd I even got a reply from someone in the TCOT community. The site also includes links to various news articles, opinion pieces and blogs.

To really understand the import of this initiative, consider the Rush Limbaugh ditto-heads.

Grass Roots Conservatism

Rush Limbaugh has millions of listeners to his daily radio show. People who are interesting in the news, and have opinions about it. The “social media” experience of this was to listen to your radio at the same time as everyone else.

When it comes time for communicating with others, there are two online formats for that: email and forums. Both have their place. Email is a great way to direct an action campaign. Forums, such as lucianne.com,  are great for longer discussion threads where all comments are displayed. Twitter appears to occupy a third spot, with some overlap with those other two.

Twitter lets folks express major or minor points easily, without guilt or worrying about whether a forum thread will grow. The hash tag identifies both the message and the person. And Twitter lets everyone weigh in on the events of the day, establishing their own brand of conservatism through their series of tweets.

At its best, politics is a world based on ideas. The ability to put forth an idea and argue persuasively is a the basis for the presidential caucuses that Barack Obama did so well with.

Once the election is over, what’s a person to do with all these ideas and enthusiasm? Channel them into engaging your fellow philosophical travelers. And right now, the Republican Party is thinking hard about its next moves. Given the grassroots orientation of the party, use of social media to discuss and spread ideas seems like a terrific idea.

Michelle Malkin, the conservative commentator and Fox News personality, is a fan of TCOT:

And if you haven’t opened a Twitter account (or haven’t figured it out yet), make sure to join TCOT.

And so is former House Majority Leader Dick Armey:

#TCOT @michaelpleahy Great to see so many conservatives on Twitter. It’s clear why everyone at @FreedomWorks wants me to use this more.

Not bad for a site that’s been up for a few weeks so far.

The Live Real-Time Web Version of the Drudge Report

I imagine some readers of this blog don’t agree with the Republican Party. That’s not my point in writing about TCOT. What interests me is the way some basic social media tools are being used for potentially great effect.

Twitter? Never be mainstream. Hashtags? People can’t be bothered. Twitter search? Why would I want to read the garbage people write?

What TCOT is doing is showing the potential in these tools. It’s too early to tell how this initiative will turn out, but a quick scan of the #TCOT tweets shows a lot of interest in this. I suspect the Obama administration and Democratic Congress will give a lot of energy to the TCOT Report. No one will displace the Drudge Report, but adding the instant reaction, and multiple points of view on myriad subjects in real-time is something that has proven addictive elsewhere.

If nothing else, I’m glad to see the continuing experimentation with social media outside the geeksphere.

*****

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My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 122608

From the home office in the North Pole…

#1: Guy tweeting after the plane crash was amazing (http://bit.ly/w6d6). Instant news. My non-twittering wife’s reaction? Eye-roll, “why?”

#2: Are you a long form twitterer? I often hit 140+ characters in my tweets, and spend time cutting them back.

#3: @mediaphyter You’re right about Twitter making us more succinct. You know where I’m seeing it most? In my emails, of all things.

#4: Enterprise 2.0 question: How important is it that things go viral inside a company?

#5: Gartner Hype Cycle for Social Software Aug 2008 – full 50-page report: http://bit.ly/ZVf6 (pdf)

#6: Some really great pix of…parents throwing their kids in the air (http://bit.ly/N5ul). This is something I do w/ my 2 y.o. girl, need pix!

#7: Listening to 7 y.o. piano prodigy on NPR, Ethan Bortnick http://bit.ly/80LW Funny to hear accomplished piano w/ a little boy’s personality.

#8: TwitterCounter has a revenue model. You pay to be a featured user on their home page/twitter user stats pages. $130/week http://bit.ly/Ve6N

#9: Hey…conservative commentator/Fox personality Michelle Malkin is now tweeting. http://twitter.com/michellemal… And the bus keeps rollin’

#10: I now await my kids’ going to sleep, so my Santa duties can get underway. I’ve got a doll house and a race track to assemble.

*****

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