Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Twittering With Tony Benn

One part of the Tony Benn interview I did yesterday, which won't be appearing in Total Politics, concerned the attempt to fake his identity on Twitter. I thought my blogreaders might enjoy this exchange in which I try to explain the joys of Twitter and Tony Benn givs his views on blogging.

ID: What do you make of Twitter?
TB: Someone said I was on it. Someone had pretended they were me. I got an email from someone saying they had found out who was doing the impersonating. But what is Twitter?
ID: It’s a form of micro blogging. You can say what you want as long as it is only 140 characters. Before I came here I twittered: “About to interview Tony Benn”.
TB: So you twitter yourself?
ID: Yes. One day I saw you appear as a Twitter profile, so I added you to my ‘follow list’.
TB: I was told I had said I was going to have a cup of tea.
ID: I saw several tweets from you, all of which were in your language and were entirely convincing. Then it turned out it wasn’t you at all.
TB: Someone emailed and said ‘I have discovered who is faking your ‘Twitter’. Do lots of people do it?
ID: Absolutely. Jonathan Ross does it now…
TB: That’s not a recommendation…
ID: Stephen Fry, quite a lot of celebrities do it, even some politicians as a way of bypassing the media. I have 800 people following me now, although I only follow about 60.
TB: It sounds a fascinating form of communication.
ID: It’s great for research. I can ask any question on Twitter and within twenty seconds someone will provide the answer in a tweet. Facebook was the fad of 2008, Twitter will probably be the 2009 fad.
TB: That’s all fascinating. But you’re the great blogger. You’ve pioneered serious blogging.
ID: I didn’t pioneer it, but I get quite a big readership – about 80,000 people every month, 600,000 last year.
TB: That is real influence.
ID: But even if you only have a few hundred, tell me a politician who wouldn’t like to make a speech to several hundred people every day. I suspect if you were starting out in politics now, you would be a fanatical blogger.
TB: I have thought about that, but you can't write a diary and do a blog at the same time. If you are a diarist you have to be free to do it, and if you are a blogger you have a different audience. A blogger is addressing an audience whereas I am recording what has happened.
If you would like to follow me on Twitter, click HERE and then click FOLLOW underneath the photo.


Daily Referendum said...

No10 Petition - Gordon Brown to resign for economic incompetence.

Nigel Barlow said...

Fascinating insight Iain,

I'm sure if Tony Benn were starting out today in politics today he would be embracing micro blogging

Old Holborn said...

Only 80,000 readers a month Iain?

That isn't what you said just a few days ago.

Iain Dale said...

Er, it's exactly what I said. You are the last person to be talking about webstats when you lied about your traffic, alleging you had higher readership stats than me. When I called you on it you went strangely silent (for you).

Google Analytics reports an average readership of 65-70,000 absolute unqiue visitors. Plus there are another 15-20% who read me through an RSS reader.

madjackmytton said...

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Chris Paul said...

Still worried about the annual absolute uniques versus the monthly figure Iain. Are you sure?

The only way to get from 80,000 AUVs per months to 600,000 AUVs per year would appear to be very very low retention. The annual figure is 7.5 times the monthly one. Which could only mean that a majority of your readers - say two-thirds - were not coming back even once in one other month in the year.

Or is the annual AUV figure in fact the sum of 12 monthly figures on a steady upward trend?

That would probably be less counter-intuitive and more encouraging even if your real annual AUV was 120,000 or something like that.

Either way I'd be interested to know how top bloggers keep tabs.

Iain Dale said...

Continue to make a twat of yourself, Chris. All those figures are from Google Analytics - totally reputable and easily verifiable.

Old Holborn said...

That's not very nice Iain, considering I send you more than 5,000 readers a month.

What's that as a percentage of your readership?

Tory Boy said...

Great bloke, mad politics!

Sixxstring90 said...

He's not a great bloke. He's a deceitful hypocrite. He preaches redistribution, but has a multi million pound fortune. He preaches state ownership, yet he has a country estate in Sussex, a house in Kensington and Notting Hill. It's ok for him to earn lots of money and pay little tax on it, but not for other people. But journalists never question his hypocrisy because they consider him a grandfatherly figure. He claims to be a pacifist but supported Sinn Fein and the IRA for 30 years. Read his diaries. He is a sycophant to himself. He says George Bush took us to war on a lie. That may be true, if not for the fact that there was a worldwide consensus that Saddam had weapons. Tony Benn said he didn't believe him. Yet when Saddam said he didn't have WMD's, he believed him without question.

Anonymous said...

Hear, Hear, Tory Boy!

Can't for the full interview.

Anonymous said...

"Facebook was the fad of 2008, Twitter will probably be the 2009 fad."

Twitter users tend to be older and more mature than Facebook users (Source: Quantcast data).

The same data also showed that Facebook users are more interested in weddings, kids and fashion whereas Twitter-folk like politics, science, technology and news. The latter 3 have been strong on Twitter for years with politics being big in other parts of the world, such as the US as seen with engagement during the 08 campaign.

In a way, UK politics is quite slow to switch on to Twitter - politicians I speak to fail to see the direct benefit to them. If not for your sterling work in promoting the service and helping politicians to understand it on their level I dare say the switch-on would have been a hell of a lot slower. (Guido helped too, but his account was used more as an SMS alerting service rather than genuinely engaging)

Roger Thornhill said...

[nerdon]Twitter is built on Erlang/OTP, which is my preferred programming language/platform.[nerdoff]

Stephen said...

He is a great bloke. Redistribution of wealth isn't about us all living as paupers - it's making sure those that can't look after themselves can. It's about everybody contributing a little based on ability to pay to the larger good - not about selling your home to get a smaller one. Despite his background and financial situation I'm sure he's done more than most for the welfare of others. His only fault, in my opinion, was staying in the Labour Party for so long when he could have helped a socialist alternative get off the ground.

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