How not to use Twitter #1: The Labour Party

Martin Robbins recently wrote an astute piece for the New Statesman about the woeful state of how the British Labour Party uses social media (and Twitter in particular). It‘s a great article that provides many specific examples of poorly constructed tweets that comprise terrible text and/or imagery. I highly recommend it to everyone; his concluding statement to Labour — Hire somebody who knows how to use Twitter properly — is thoroughly merited.

Text + image = success?

I’d like to add yet another example of poor tweeting by @UKLabour that I witnessed today. It is not exactly a secret to know that a good image can really increase the engagment of a post on social media. Images that include text can also be a good way of getting past that pesky 140 character limit.

However, images are not a guaranteed way of making your tweets capture everyone’s attention, especially when the accompanying text from the tweet doesn’t really add anything to what’s in the image.

Double text

Let’s look at a series of tweets that appeared on the @UKLabour account today. These tweets were posted as part of a speech by Jeremy Corbyn to the Federation of Small Businesses. Tweet number 1:

The second part of the text from the attached image — to stop giveaways to big corporations, at the expense of small businesses — is reproduced verbatim in the text of the tweet itself. At least both of these passages of text start differently…which is more than can be said of the three tweets that immediately followed:

Bad Powerpoint

These tweets remind me of a bad Powerpoint presentation where the speaker is just reading the text off of a slide. The images are adding very little value to the text of the tweets (or should that be that the text of the tweets are adding very little value to the images?).

Using Jeremy Corbyn’s image in every tweet — always looking slightly past your shoulder — also produces a strange effect when you see all four tweets side by side in your timeline:

The effect is of a visual stutter and one might think, at first glance, that someone accidentally sent the same tweet multiple times. Will Jeremy Corbyn’s visage be attached to every policy initiative that the Labour Party announces?

The effect of these tweets is to suggest — and this may well be intentional — that these are all Jeremy’s policies rather than belonging to the wider party.

Labour, Labour, Labour, Labour, Labour

If you include the account name (The Labour Party) and Twitter handle (@UKLabour) then three of the four tweets include the word ‘Labour’ five times which feels a bit excessive.

You could make a case that as these images mostly reproduce text from the associated tweets, that they aren’t really needed at all. An alternative solution would be to omit images from the four tweets but include an additional tweet that has one image that summarises the main points, i.e. something like this:

Do they like it?

At the time of writing these tweets have averaged just over 300 likes each…which is the equivalent of less than 1 in 1,000 of @LabourUK’s followers liking each tweet.