Twitter, the Internet platform where users send brief “tweets” of 160 or fewer characters is part of the social media rage and is frequently used by politicians and elected officials. I recently took a look at the Twitter accounts of Gov. Rick Scott (@FLGovScott) and former Gov. Charlie Crist (@CharlieCristFL) to compare the two likely opponents in next year’s race for governor and to analyze what their accounts say about them.
Although he’s been posting since 2010, Crist is an infrequent user of Twitter except around election time. Crist has just 169 tweets, he follows a mere 146 other Tweeters, and has 12,788 tweeters who follow him.
I didn’t find any embarrassing or controversial tweets from Charlie, though I’m sure he deleted all the ones from back in the day he may have sent to @JimGreerRPOFChair. Perhaps one like this: “meet u 4 pancakes 2 plan next donor meeting?” or, “Rubio is such a twerp! He’ll scream uncle when AMEX records come out!”
Since the beginning of the year, the former governor has tweeted only two times — once to recognize veterans on Memorial Day, and once on Aug. 8, when he linked a news story about Scott launching a new purge of voter rolls.
Unlike Facebook, which requires a user’s approval to become their “friend,” you really can’t control who follows you on Twitter. Since you can’t control who follows you, it wouldn’t be fair to pass judgment or otherwise read too much into who a particular user is followed by.
But Twitter users are in total control of whom they follow.
Crist’s short list of people he follows includes prominent officials such as Scott, President Obama and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. Crist also follows quite a few media types, including Piers Morgan and Wolf Blitzer, but he’s apparently un-followed the entire team of hosts at “Fox and Friends” since changing parties twice in the last two years — though strangely, he still follows Bill O’Reilly. He also follows all the pro sports teams in Florida, as well as all of the branches of the military and multiple regional chamber of commerce type groups in Florida.
The one thing that seems to be missing from Crist’s list of followers are actual “real people,” the kind of people Charlie is always saying he’s “for.” People whose names you wouldn’t recognize, who lead everyday lives; I found only four of them.
Scott is the anti-Crist when it comes to Twitter. The governor’s account shows 1,616 tweets going back to May 2011. He has 39,923 followers and follows a mind-numbing 6,933 users.
Like most politicians (other than Anthony Weiner), Scott’s tweets are rather boring. As with Crist, there weren’t any embarrassing tweets and nothing that give any idea what this guy is really like in real life. Rather, boring policy announcements, an occasional generic message about his family, and shameless plugs about when he’s next going to be on Fox News are prolific. The more I think about it, boring, generic and shameless may actually suggest what Scott is like in real life.
What is telling about Scott is in the 6,933 users he follows. Remember, these are the people that he chose to follow. Who are they? Given that there are almost 7,000 of them, I think they consist of anyone who will give Scott the time of day.
In addition to a lot of Republican politicos, and various media outlets and conservative talking heads, the governor follows people such as @DJSamHouse, who bills himself as “not your typical LA DJ.” It’s good to know the governor is exposed to the atypical LA DJ crowd for sure. He also follows @BOGOmagazine (as in Buy One Get One Free), which seems odd for a guy worth more than the average Powerball jackpot. But, hey, maybe his thriftiness helps explain his millions.
Another strange user Scott follows is @FatLoss_Info. This from a guy who looks like he couldn’t weigh more than an ounce over a buck-fifty when he’s soaking wet. Although you can’t tell a lot about someone from their Twitter account, it does give you a little bit of insight into the political operation of these two men, and how different their approaches to social media are. One is shooting with a rifle, the other a shotgun. Both of them are aiming at the same target, and it’s you and me in the cross-hairs.
Chris Ingram is a Republican political consultant and analyst at Bay News 9. Follow him on Twitter @IrreverentView.