Ed Balls Day: How Not To Use Twitter (If You're A Politician)

It's the anniversary of the day the Labour MP tweeted his own name. To mark the blessed occasion, here's some other social media cock-ups from our favourite people-in-power. Enjoy 

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Gentlemen, it's that time of the year when we, once again, wish you a very happy Ed Balls Day. 

Three years ago to the day, the shadow chancellor of the exchequer – a man who could be next in line to manage the entire British economy – failed to understand the difference between Twitter and Google and sent out a succinct, eight-character post: his own name.

Flagrant narcissism or a genius piece of gorilla marketing? Whatever your opinion, one thing is certain –  the anniversary of this occasion is a social media event, with Tweeters across the globe flexing their fingers, limbering up their keyboards and posting “Ed Balls” – even the main man himself. 

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Twitter is a hard medium to master for most of us, but for politicians, it's that little bit trickier. Holding court in the House of Commons is one thing, but being witty, engaging and endearing yourself to the electorate in 140 characters is tough. 

To help the 241 MPs yet to sign up to the world-dominating micro-blogging platform from making a similar error, we've compiled the dos and don'ts of using social media for those in the corridors of power. 

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You can thank us later. 

 

1  | Do check for typos

Let’s start with the basics: spelling and grammar. If you’re paying respect to a recently deceased public figure – which accounts for approximately 73 per cent of all Twitter traffic – the temptation is to get in there early, failing to check for any embarrassing errors. 

Case in point: Ed Miliband’s tearful nod to Bob Holness, presenter of – as Miliband put it – cult Eighties game show “Blackbusters”. Holness, 83, passed away in early 2012, taking with him a small part of Miliband’s dignity.

2 | Don’t accidentally post a link to porn

Another obvious one, and a lesson Reading East MP Rob Wilson learnt the hard (no pub intended) way.

The Tory MP had intended directing his followers to a blog post on a BBC interview with Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith. Instead, Conservative Campaign HQ gave him a link to the SexyDigg “ultimate adult site”.

“We apologise to Rob Wilson for our mistake in passing him a shortened link with the last character missing,” a CCHQ spokesperson said. “This resulted in a quite different website to the one intended being linked from the tweet.”

 

3 | Do watch who you follow

If you think this country might be in a bad place once Balls gets his hands on it, take a long, hard look at the man we currently call PM. In 2009, David Cameron made the statement “Too many twits make a twat” – words that have come back to haunt him time and time again. 

One such occasion was last November when it was noted that Cameron’s account had started following Carltons of London, an agency promising the “finest London escorts to gentlemen of distinction,” but one that does however also bill itself as the "oldest and most important of all Conservative clubs", so no problem there, then.

When The Registry, who broke the story, contacted Carltons, they were told: “I don't know anything about the Prime Minister or Twitter.” Him neither.

 

4 | If you're a multimillionaire born into aristocracy, don't try and look like a man of the people

Like George Osbourne did, with his late night burger 'n chips photo whilehe was working on the comprehensive spending review. It transpired it was no ordinary take-away, but one from upmarket chain Byron. The image made the The Sun's front page, declaring that the cost of his midnight munch was just under £10. Whoops. 

 

5 | Do keep an eye on your other half’s account

Speaker John Bercow's wife Sally isn't content with just being photographed in a bedsheet for the London Evening Standard – she's also got a habit of making libellous comments on Twitter.

She once named a girl who had run away with her maths teacher (therefore breaching the Children and Young Person's Act, which forbids the identification of minors) as well as naming Lord McAlpine in the midst of the alleged Conservative peer paedophile speculations. 


6 | Do gauge the public mood

Tory MP Aidan Burley destroyed his future in politics after he compounded his attendance at a Nazi-themed stag party with nasty tweets at the London Olympics opening ceremony. He described Danny Boyle's opening ceremony as 'multicultural crap,' drawing criticism from people of every political persuasion. 

7 | Don’t Flounce Off In A Huff

If you’re a public figure, something that you’re going to have to deal with is insults. There is no justification for the abuse thrown at former Tory MP Louise Mensch, but to then go and set up your own microblogging platform to rival Twitter smacks of throwing one's toys out of the pram. The site's now called it a day, again proving the unshakeable dominance of those little blue birds. 

 

8 |  Don’t tweet at the wrong guy

When the Prime Minister sent out a tweet on the Benefits Cap, he managed to 'at' a parody account of work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith – whose pronouncements include cracks such as "We think it's vital young working class children learn fractions. It will help them tremendously when they grow up and become drug dealers." 

9 | Don't brag about Barack 

Another Cameron classic. The PM whacked up a photo of himself apparently on the phone to the US president discussing Ukraine, only to unleash a million parodies. Our favourite is Patrick Stewart and the wet wipes. Gold. 

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