Eat your heart out Justin Bieber you''ll never out-twitter Ó Muilleoir
Is there a politician anywhere on the planet as Twitter prolific as Sinn Fein’s Máirtín Ó Muilleoir?
The undisputed king of the selfies appears to have superglued his mobile to his left hand. Aside from comfort breaks we pretty much know what he is up to all day every day and the man has so much energy it can be tiring just following his twitter stream.
There he is in Boston, now he’s back in Belfast: sometimes he’s running, sometimes he’s cycling, there he is up at Stormont, now he’s speaking in his constituency. He never seems to stop.
To date he has tweeted almost 57,000 times since joining in 2010, doubtless much more than that by the time many come to read this.
This is staggering by any standards. To put that figure in context: it is much more than President Obama, the political pioneer of social media; it’s more than Stephen Fry, one of the first celebrities to embrace social media; and much more than Katie Hopkins, who is pretty much a professional Twitter troll these days. Justin Bieber has managed just 28,000 tweets, half as many as the former Lord Mayor of Belfast, although Scope could not help noticing that he has a few more followers (maybe a new haircut, a few tattoos and joining a band would help the former First Citizen?).
To save our readers getting the calculators out, and assuming that Máirtín Ó Muilleoir does actually sleep at night, this equates to around two tweets an hour seven days per week. Is there any politician anywhere in the globe who can match that?
The return for that mindboggling activity is 19,300 plus followers (around 2,000 less than his colleague Gerry Kelly, who has only tweeted 1,384 times, but then again Mr Kelly practically co-presents the Nolan Show).
Now he’s standing in South Belfast, aiming to topple the SDLP Alasdair McDonnell in the forthcoming General Election.
McDonnell is also on Twitter so we can easily compare how the two are faring on line.
The good Doctor opened his Twitter account back in November 2009 and yet between now and then has only tweeted around 800 times (a few weeks work for Ó Muilleoir). He has 3,380 followers, better than many MLAs but very low for a party leader with the enhanced profile that goes with that.
Ó Muilleoir is a journalist turned media mogul who has seamlessly adapted from his inky fingered days on the Andersonstown News to the digital era.
So what of the other ex-hack turned politician Fearghal McKinney? He lags behind both with a mere 1650 followers and has a lot of catching up to do.
Michael McGimpsey of the UUP is on Twitter, but barely so. His last recorded tweet was around two years ago “Newtownbreda must be saved from closure” it says. It wasn’t. The school is to merge with Knockbreda in September.
The DUP’s Jimmy Spratt is marginally ahead of Mr McGimpsey. He has 590 followers to McGimpsey’s 340.
This brings us to the Alliance Party’s Anna Lo whose vile treatment on social media sadly demonstrates an unsavoury side to Twitter.
Social media is largely positive but it can also be a hiding place for deeply unsavoury people who hide behind anonymity to smear and abuse and to bully. When Ms Lo made a stance on the flag dispute she became the target of attack by racists and bigots. The matter was reported to the PSNI who were investigating but we are not aware of any prosecutions as yet.
Hardly surprisingly in that context, Ms Lo who is to retire from politics on the completion of her term of office has just 71 tweets to her name, yet 2474 followers, a very strong ratio given the circumstances.
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