Fishburn Hedges research shows new wave of MPs plugged into social media

Facebook and Twitter will become core ways that MPs communicate with their constituents following the election, according to new research conducted among the 'next generation' of MPs.

Web-savvy: Westminster's next generation
Web-savvy: Westminster's next generation

Fishburn Hedges questioned more than 100 candidates likely to win or retain their seats at the next general election.
 
The agency found that Facebook already plays a central role in much of this generation's campaigning. The vast majority (83 per cent) of candidates are using Facebook in their campaigns, while 50 per cent use Twitter in the same way.
 
Significantly, a massive 84 per cent also intend to use social networking tools such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs to communicate with their constituents if they are elected to the House of Commons.
 
Some 82 per cent of candidates also said that once they were an MP they would treat communications from constituents received through social media such as Twitter and Facebook with the same priority as those received by letter or email.
 
The indicative research, carried out by ComRes on behalf of Fishburn Hedges, was designed to gauge candidates' use of new technologies, as well as their intended use should they be elected to the Commons later this year.
 
Simon Redfern, associate director at Fishburn Hedges, said: ‘A lot of new candidates have really embraced social media tools and talk to their constituents using these channels. But what's good for the campaign may not work as well in power.
 
‘New candidates are innovating with the tools available.  You only have to look at Charlie Elphicke's use of Chat Map, Chuka Umunna's YouTube channel and Stella Creasy's Facebook page to see how modern political campaigning is changing.'
 
Further findings show that female candidates are more likely to favour the use of social networking both in their current campaigns and in their future intentions for work as an MP, with 65 per cent using Twitter in their campaigns, compared to 44 per cent of male candidates.
 
While candidates for each of the three main parties tend to use Facebook in their campaigning equally, Conservative candidates are less likely to use Twitter.
 
The research was conducted on behalf of Fishburn Hedges by ComRes, which surveyed 101 Prospective Parliamentary Candidates likely to win or retain their seats at the next general election. Surveys were completed online between 5 February and 9 March 2010.

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