While MEPs continue to make use of a wide range of channels to communicate, the most notable developments since the previous survey in 2009 have been the doubling of social network uptake (mainly Facebook) – up from 33% to 69%, the rising popularity of Twitter – albeit slower than the take up of Twitter generally, and – notably – the decline in blogging – down from 40% of MEPs to 29%. Three-quarters of MEPs who use Twitter do so principally for expressing views to constituents, rather than engaging in dialogue with constituents, suggesting there is scope for MEPs to develop their use of Twitter.
Personal contact and media coverage are still viewed by MEPS as the most effective communications tools although there is a marked attitude shift towards social media. MEPS still believe that a personal website is the most effective online communication channel while many view video as ineffective, in an age in which YouTube attracts up to 2 billion clicks a day.
When conducting issue research online, MEPS are mostly looking for media coverage of the issue, demonstrating that digital tools are increasingly used as the gateway to traditional media.
Specific issue websites are valued more than generic organisation websites, which implies that producing separate, specialised content on key issues through microsites, for example, is a highly viable approach when communicating with MEPs.
Digital Strategist at Fleishman-Hillard Brussels, Steffen Thejll-Moller said “we were keen to repeat the survey to determine whether MEPs’ enthusiasm for the web back in 2009 was influenced by the recent Obama campaign or the fact that it was an election year, or whether they indeed had made a real shift towards using the web in their daily work. The new findings indicate that 2009 was not a blip: despite a drop in blogging, MEPs are overall using the web more in 2011.”
Caroline Wunnerlich, Managing Director of Fleishman-Hillard Brussels said “Just as our clients’ channels of communication are rapidly evolving, so too are those of Members of the European Parliament. Fleishman-Hillard is delighted to be able to present these digital insights, which we hope are enlightening and helpful to both MEPs and citizens in their communications with each other.”
Summary of key statistics:
- 69% of MEPs use social networks now whereas in 2009 only 33% used social networks extensively.
- 29% write a personal blog, compared to 40% in 2009.
- 34% are on Twitter, up from 21%.
- 57% of Twitter users say the greatest benefit is ‘expressing views directly’ while only 28% chose ‘engaging with people through dialogue’.
- 30% of those who use blog and 33% who tweet use two or more languages (English being the predominant second language.)
- 99% use search engines every week, 93% every day.
- 80% are looking for simple summaries of issues when searching online.
- 78% think specific issue websites are important, more than the organisation sites.
- 90% name coverage in national media as important, 51% of those very important.
- 86% call position papers important, but personal contact is still the most important at 93%.
View the full survey results at www.epdigitaltrends.eu.
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