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Social Advocacy & Politics: Bill Clinton vs. Hillary Clinton on Twitter


After resisting for years, both Bill and Hillary Clinton joined Twitter. Their welcomes were huge, with Hillary racking up over 440,000 followers within 36 hour. And Bill launched his Twitter presence with the Colbert bump, as Stephen Colbert practically shamed him onto Twitter on TV (albeit cable TV). Yet despite their mutual meteoric launches, neither one has truly embraced Twitter. While most people would just attribute this to their age and move on, I decided to take a dive into their Twitter profiles to examine and compare their “tapes”(who they follow, how often they tweet and what they tweet) to get a better understanding of their social side.

ImageNeither Bill nor Hillary follows many people; seventeen, actually. Combined! It’s actually twelve unique people, once we account for their mutual friends. And they really don’t follow anyone except themselves. Among these 12 accounts followed are family members (they follow each other and both follow Chelsea) and Clinton-related organizations (@ClintonFdn, @CGI, @CGIU, @ClintonHealth, @WJCLibrary, @2SmallToFail and @ClintonSchool). Bill also follows the Alliance for Healthier Generation (@HealthierGen), which fights obesity, and, of course, Stephen Colbert (@StephenAtHome). Hillary follows no one who is not family or a Clinton-related organization.

Not very social, eh?

Since launching her account on June 10, 2013, Hillary has tweeted seven times on June 10, 14, 14, 25, 25 and 26. Sparse, to say the least. Yet her first tweet got over 11,000 retweets and nearly 7,000 favorites. Since then, her tweets have grown from about 700 retweets to over 2,000 on the last two. Wish my tweets got that kind of traction.

All this said, she’s not interacting with anyone, unless you count one MT of @ChelseaClinton shooting “selfies” with her mom. “Selfies!” Hillary may not be tweeting up a storm, but she’s already picked up the vernacular of a teenaged tweeter.

Meanwhile, Bill has tweeted 47 times. Prolific, by comparison, though he’s been at it since April 6. Still, he is averaging more than one tweet per day (barely), which is substantially more than Hillary.

OK… let’s clarify… someone is tweeting for Bill and Hillary. Are they tweeting for themselves? It is too soon to tell.

ImageNow Bill (or whoever tweets for him) shows a bit of understanding of the social power of Twitter. He congratulated George and Laura Bush for opening @TheBushCenter, says he loves Twitter because he can hear from @BillGates (working the fundraising angle?), @PaulPierce34 (Is Bill a Celtics fan? Cool.), @SenJohnMcCain (a bit of cross-the-aisle schmoozing), @TheEllenShow (is he hoping to break out the sax again?) and @Usher (so Bill loves the groovy tunes) in a single day. He has jumped into big cultural issues (proudly calls self-outed NBA star Jason Collins a friend) and has even dabbled with Vine. He even retweeted Hillary’s first tweet (what a sweet husband!).

I find it funny, though, that neither Bill nor Hillary follows Bill’s former Chief of Staff and Hillary’s close advisor @JohnPodesta. Even @LauraWBush follows @KarlRove (I suppose George would, too, if he was a Twitter user).

So that is a quick review of the Clinton’s launch into the Twitterverse. How their use evolves will be an interesting story. Will Bill continue to grow into a social mega-star, bringing his famed face-to-face networking skills to bear on his Twitter peeps? Will Hillary embrace the true power of social media and start engaging with voters and her peers in government and world leadership? Or will they use Twitter merely as a broadcast channel?

They have a tough act to follow. @BarackObama has over 33 million followers (although, like ALL politicians, many of them are “fake”). But Obama follows over 661,000 people. And while Obama doesn’t often engage socially, he does at times. He even Rick Rolled a voter in 2011.

Social Advocacy & Politics is a weekly, exclusive column for Social Media Today by Alan Rosenblatt that explores the intersection of politics and social media. Look for the next installment next Tuesday morning.

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