The Nicola Sturgeon interview: how to use social media
Sturgeon was one of the first politicians to really embrace the value of Twitter, ensuring she struck a balance between the political and the personal. She has been tweeting since 2010 and has over 116,000 followers. I ask her what rule she tweets by. Who sits on her shoulder whispering ‘no’?
“Me, usually, and what I hope I apply is common sense most of the time. Since the day I first went onto Twitter I have applied a couple of very basic rules and so far it has mainly kept me out of trouble.
"The first rule is, don’t say anything on Twitter that you wouldn’t stand in front of a television camera and say. I think that’s the mistake a lot of politicians make, they forget it is public and because there’s a feeling of privacy about it, they treat it as if they are talking to a pal in the pub. That is the first rule I’ve applied and the second is don’t do it after you’ve had a glass of wine.
"Some politicians just don’t get social media, frankly"
“Some politicians just don’t get social media, frankly. There are lots of them, too many to name, in all parliaments across the world, where they routinely tweet press releases. Social media, for any politician of course, it’s partly about self-promotion, otherwise you wouldn’t do it. But if you want to engage with people it has to be more than that. The most responses I get on Twitter are when I tweet about things that are not about politics.
"I tweeted a picture of myself and my niece on Hogmanay at her request and for the next couple of hours she was agog at how many retweets she was getting. You’ll note she was getting. These personal insights that make the politician more whole are what get people much more engaged than just shunting out the press releases and the official comments. Why shouldn’t people know you a bit more as a person?”
“If I ever get to a point in this job where I am scared to show human emotion, I think I will give it up because that’s the point where you are absolutely not being yourself and it is critically important to me that I remain ‘me’.
"Now as a politician, you have to on many occasions keep your human emotions under check in a way that is about representing the nation particularly in times of tragedy, but politicians are human beings and we share the same reactions to these things as anybody else does. I think we should be forgiven for showing how we feel.”
Also see part one, on gender equality, and part two, on following Alex Salmond.