Putting social media at the heart of british politics
Meet the expert..
Dr Darren Lilleker
Dr Darren Lilleker, a senior lecturer in Political Communication has spent the last 11 years looking at ways in which MPs communicate – and how those methods can be improved, particularly through the use of social media.
This project is working alongside the House of Lords, aiding members to develop a communication strategy to raise public awareness of their role through increased media coverage, as well as monitoring various information sources in order to be on top of the news agenda.
With considerable expertise in the analysis of election campaigns and political communication - and their impact upon citizen engagement, the academic has examined how politicians can make better use of Twitter, Facebook and other 21st century communication tools.
Specifically the project involves training peers in the uses of social media and the subsequent measurement of mentions within a range of news media; from weblogs and online shares to the online and offline traditional media (newspapers and broadcasters).
The work has already been instrumental in developing a white paper providing guidance on digital media monitoring and Dr Lilleker and his team are working towards producing a best practice guide for a total media strategy in the era of hypermedia campaigning.
Within the context of political communication it is so valuable to involve the end user within the process of research when working. The shared learning process gives key insights into the daily working processes and the interactions between individuals with differing perspectives and skill sets.
But for me, this is not just about communication between peers and those they serve, it is about improving communication techniques as a way to encourage others to get involved in politics. My ultimate goal is to help politicians and the electorate to better engage with each other and hopefully instil some of my passion for politics into others. Hopefully, through this work, the perceived barriers that may stop people getting as involved in politics will come down. What we also must not forget is that we live in a democracy and a fundamental part of that is being able to have your say and feel someone is listening to you – communication in its purest form.
Darren Lilleker, Senior Lecturer Political Communication
The Political Communication option really helped give an alternative perspective of the applications of marketing communications. Darren's experience of working with politicians and political parties brings colour to his lectures and allows us to really understand how political communication strategies are developed... the insider insights are magic.
Extract from student testimonials
In the Lords, I find a growing appreciation of the need for effective political communication coupled with a nervousness about how it all works! We recently appointed someone to do our overall communications, but now individual peers want to do more themselves. We are also now getting over burdened by emails and other communications that, at times, it is a struggle to respond to.
Darren's expertise in this field and his understanding of a wide range of communication practices and techniques have been invaluable in helping Parliamentarians reconsider the way they talk to each other and engage with the public – particularly through social media.
Lord Knight of Weymouth, formerly Jim Knight MP for South Dorset