A lesson in 'politwits'

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Day in, day out, high profile tweeters continue to grab headlines, and the latest is president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez. In terms of international politics, he certainly doesn’t march to the same beat as the majority of his counterparts. In fact, it’s fair to say that his controversial politics command limited credibility on the world stage.

There are bags of high profile politicians (and some of their equally prominent wives) on Twitter, but few have mastered it in quite the way Chávez has.  The Venezuelan president’s account, @chavezcandanga, is racking up over 720,000 followers a day. Each of them is prompted to tweet him with questions or concerns. Engagement is king when it comes to social media, so Chávez responds to messages with 140 characters’ worth of support or encouragement.

To me, this highlights how far society has changed. Political leaders are communicating with their nations through a website with a little cartoon bird as its logo. If someone had explained this to me five years ago, I would’ve laughed and then returned to updating my MySpace.

Twitter, with millions of users, is beyond huge. It’s how the world is talking, and savvy politicians should be listening. Politics is often perceived as stuffy, so what better way to revamp the way that politicians communicate than to embrace social media? We may not be inspired to follow his policies and you can’t run a country with 140 characters but he has gained some valuable PR exposure.