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You know, we’re an opinionated bunch, here at Elephant Creative Towers… and we like nothing better than being able to tell people what we think.  That’s why we’ve launched a new, regular opinion column called The Herd is the Word*.  It’s a chance for us to speak out on hot new communications techniques or campaigns that have caught our eye.

The Chancellor’s budget was one of the hottest trends on Twitter this week. With more than 250,000 Tweets sent in just a few hours, it was the first truly ‘social’ budget.

We asked our followers whether Chancellor George Osborne made the right call to sign-up to Twitter just hours before announcing the budget, so we feel it’s only right for us to wade-in and fan the flames a little!

Rightly or wrongly, a lot of people don’t like the Chancellor. No matter when he was going to take the plunge and sign-up there was going to be a queue of people waiting to share their (often creatively worded) thoughts. So why decide to let the flood-gates open at such a time?

Well, diving into Twitter whilst the budget, and therefore himself, was in the spotlight enabled Osborne to create enough of a social stir that a tidal wave of followers came his way. In fact, about 30,000 of them before lunch. That’s already half as many followers as shadow Chancellor Ed Balls had amassed since joining Twitter.

Perhaps Osborne had learned from last year’s budget, and the accompanying #grannytax hash tag? After all, the discussion was going to take place whether he was present or not. Was this the perfect opportunity for Osborne to take ownership of the conversation?

But this is where Osborne showed his social naivety. He gave himself a platform of 30,000 people, but by the time he was announcing the budget in Parliament he had only sent a measly two tweets. The Chancellor was presented with a captive audience of thousands yet chose to neither produce any inspiring content nor engage with his following to rally the Twitter troops for battle.

Osborne’s #aspirationnation was the 10th most used hash tag of the budget discussion. Not only did it sound like political propaganda, it failed to capture the imagination of the Tory faithful. Meanwhile, Labour party leaders had clearly co-ordinated their efforts to champion the #downgradechancellor hash tag. It was mentioned about 3 times as much as Osborne’s #aspirationnation and was the 4th most used hash tag of the budget. Hardly taking ‘ownership of the conversation’…

So here are our top tips for George Osborne’s next ‘social’ budget:

  • Likes, followers, etc are great, but if you have a platform use it! Bring something to the discussion and engage with key influencers to win the ‘ground battle’.
  • Plan ahead, be witty and take ownership of the conversation – Osborne and his colleagues need to be more creative than #aspirationnation. Capture your followers’      imagination to create social momentum.
  • Social media is the perfect medium to show that politicians are human beings – so act like one and show your personality. No more photographs of signing papers sitting like a robot, please!

*Well… come on… who doesn’t like Family Guy and we bet we’ve got you all humming now…