I've been following the quick evolution in how politicians are starting to use Twitter with varying success. It will also be interesting to observe some of the attempts to bring Twitter into use at the upcoming party conferences, which started this week with the Lib Dem jamboree in Bournemouth.
MessageSpace, the online political advertising consultancy fronted by my friend, the former US Democrat new media consultant, Jag Singh, is launching an innovative new service to target the party conference fringe circuit.
FringeList.com will be an online hub for comms and marketing teams to promote their fringe events with listings and a service that lets attendees register online and express their interest for an event. A couple of hours before those events start, they will be sent an SMS/text message reminder.
Using Amazon-style recommendations, FringeList will point users to all other events at the three main party conferences that people may find interesting. It’s also mobile-web friendly, which means users don’t have to flip through pages and pages of events within those conference handbooks to find the events they want to attend. They are also aiming to launch a dedicated iPhone app, and services will be integrated with Facebook and Twitter.
Interestingly MessageSpace will also be sending 'Twitter Ambassadors' to all three conferences, so that where attendees have a schedule clash or for people interested in a particular topic but can't attend conference, they will still be able to stay in touch with, and contribute to, the discussion in real-time. Some of these 'Twitter Ambassadors' are thought to include many of the well known bloggers who are closely associated with each of the main parties.
Organisers are also being offered access to the MessageSpace ad network so their events can advertised across the blogosphere, and on the New Statesman and Spectator magazine websites with a guarantee that adverts will be seen by the thousands of people attending the party conferences. The company operates a unique platform that enables advertisers to target and specify the groups that will ultimately view the ad by reading the IP address of the web user.
There are lots of similar experiments taking place. Fellow PR guy, Simon Redfern of Fishburn Hedges, has done a deal with Channel Four News to host a Twitter fringe, or 'twinge'. Panellists at the events at the Tory and Labour conferences, chaired by Channel 4 News anchor, Krishnan Guru-Murthy, will be able to respond to questions and comments tweeted onto a Twitterwall at the event by Twitter users as well as those posed by the audience in the room.
The event, entitled You tweet if you want to: the web is for opposition, not for governing will take place on the Monday evenings of both conferences. The debate will focus on the interaction of social media on politics, from Gordon Brown on YouTube to Barrack Obama's online campaign, the lessons that can be learnt and the new opportunities it brings.
I'll watch/tweet with interest.