When the public is searching for information about prominent politicians online, one of the most common things looked for is their Twitter account – so says the data from search engine giant Google.
Chances are you’ve noticed that as you start typing a search term into Google’s search box, it tries to guess what you are typing, suggesting several ways to complete what you are typing in. Those guesses are derived from Google’s huge data set of what people having been searching for online, so seeing what Google suggests also reveals what the most popular searches made by other people have been. The popularity of previous searches is not the only factor that goes into working out what Google will suggest to you, but it is by far the most important.
Try searching on the names of prominent politicians and one common pattern emerges – Google keeps on suggesting their name followed by Twitter as the search term you want to use.
That’s the case not only for the leaders of the three main parties, David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband, but also for Caroline Lucas (the Green MP), Alex Salmond (Scotland’s first minister) and Nigel Farage of UKIP. It was only on searches for Plaid’s leader Ieuan Wyn Jones that Google did not prompt to suggest looking for Twitter in the tests I carried out.
The lesson of this? Trying to find political leaders on Twitter is one of the most common pieces of research about them that the public carry out. And if so many people are looking for you on Twitter, that is a good reason for being there and using it well.