In May 2012, ZN and polling agency ComRes published the “Digital Pulse” report on
the use of social media by EU policymakers and “influencers”. The results were unequivocal: nine out of ten MEPs and EU professionals use Wikipedia for their work, 70% of MEPs use Facebook, and one third regularly use Twitter. LinkedIn is also very popular among NGOs, trade associations and businesses.
Together with ComRes Chairman Andrews Hawkins we analyzed some of the study’s implications and opportunities to use social media in EU affairs.
I looked at how MEPs and Brussels “influencers” have embraced social media, like almost everyone else, in their daily lives. It’s “the new normal”. I noted however that many people working in EU affairs are constrained in how they use these new online tools because of the “frozen paradigms of Brussels”. I argued that this is evidence of a need to completely rethink EU affairs if MEPs and EU policymakers are to engage citizens in the upcoming 2014 European parliamentary elections.
Andrew highlights the fact that not only are social media being massively picked up by MEPs and EU professionals, but unlike with traditional media, costs for publicizing are low and you can get detailed data on what audience your campaign is reaching.
He also contrasts the London and Brussels political markets, noting that single-issue campaign groups and activists have yet to penetrate the EU capital like corporates have. There is still an unexplored, potentially massive niche to be filled: “potentially you could have tens of millions of people rallying behind a cause if they feel it sufficiently emotionally, if they can get sufficiently engaged.”