Maman Poulet | Clucking away crookedly through media, politics and life

Fianna Fáil learn to tweet (again)

May 9th, 2010 · 19 Comments · Irish Politics

Remember the last time Blue State Digital, who include some of the creatives behind the Obama campaign, came to Dublin?

John Drennan delights (as only he can!) in telling readers of the Sunday Independent that BSD are coming back and are going to address a meeting of the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party on Tuesday night.

Sam Jeffers and Gregor Poynton from Blue State Digital’s London office are going to talk blogging and online campaigning and getting it to translate into offline electoral gains. Gregor joined BSD having previously worked as Election Strategy Manager for the British Labour Party.

They have their work cut out for them as Fianna Fáil are an ageing party in some financial trouble and their previous attempts at engaging online have not been successful or supported by all members of the party or senior staff.  Never mind the fact that the country and the economy is in a mess and the electorate may just bite back if they are tweeted or facebooked at.  Videos and blog posts and tweets are coming from head office on a regular basis but I feel they just hang out there in thin air.  The website is over a year old and doesn’t feel very user friendly or inviting.

And then there is the curious state of denial that the party is in – Example no. 1 – The Galway Bypass – a campaign by a government TD for his government to do something.

Today’s blog post from Thomas Byrne TD from the Meath Regional Seminar shows how much learning has to be done – indeed the FF blog itself by whomever is dragged into write a post (or have it ghosted for them) is very poor. There are no attempts to engage with others inside or outside the party.  For exampled why weren’t a few bloggers asked to come to the regional seminars to cover the events?

And why do they think that Blue State Digital are going to be able to teach them how to do all this? Because Barack Obama got elected? It wasn’t his website that got him elected alone.  And no matter how many times Irish politicians are told this by those around them they continue to ignore it.

There doesn’t seem to be any party organised BSD event for bloggers, public relations types, guru wannabes this year – or if there is they haven’t told me about it anyway.

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19 Comments so far

  • Keith

    Would bloggers actually go this time, after what happened last time?

  • steve white

    i was surprised to discover the blue state digital weren’t hired for the labour ge2010 campaign, i guess cos labour couldn’t afford it, and neither can FF afford a full BSD myobama type website, which is why i wonder they got to BSD to do their main site, when theres nothing on it that any other web Co could do (although i have my theory), again it can only be the obama name used to impress the politicians, media etc

    would you encouraage use of facebook or worry about political privacy or is to big to ignore

  • Peter Slattery

    Maybe it’d be more beneficial for FF to start thinking of how to repair the damage they’ve done to the country and their own party. You know, concentrate on those almost insignificant things political parties have something to do with… what are they called?… POLICIES. Politics is becoming a massive pagaent with whomever can look the best getting the most votes. Policy means nothing now. The system is broken.

  • SeanR

    No amount of “tweets” will repair a brand like FF that has been tarnished beyond belief… I’m sure BSD will happily take FF’s money tho’. If anything, to save itself at the next election, FF should actually say nothing rather than try to ‘lovebomb’ us with tweets!

    Well done on the Sunday Times piece btw, well done!

  • shellshock

    I think the importance of bloggers and blogs is overrated with regard to the general population. People will not be influenced by anonymous bloggers with regard to who they should vote for, nor should they. The next election is too important for that.

    Also, why are you looking for inclusion in events organised by the political parties. If bloggers want to be taken seriously, they should avoid any tainting by being associated with the mainstream (lying narrative) version of what is going on in our country.

    Seeking validation in the form of awards and getting invited to party political events should be anathema to a blogger.

  • Maman Poulet

    so we’re not important but we should not be tainted? I’m confused. As you seem to be. I don’t think we’re more important than anything else. But ignoring blogs and online media isn’t an option as FF and other parties are discovering.

    If bloggers don’t cover or question the mainstream narrative what should we be doing instead? Examining our belly button fluff?

  • shellshock

    let me clarify. I think the importance of bloggers is overrated with regard to the electorate. Mostly everybody I know gets their information regarding politics from the mainstream media, friends, their trade union, etc etc. I did not mean with reference to political parties.

    I agree that ignoring blogs is not an option for political parties, but this is only because they will use the blogs and the blogger for their own political ends. Do not flatter yourself that they will interact with you for any other reason.

    And you don’t have to be smart. examining your belly button fluff is probably far more useful to the electorate than the endless echos across blogs of like minded people talking to each other. It seems to me that the Irish political system is so immature, that the urge to belong to the mainstream overrides any compromise on principals. (I am not accusing you of this, I dont know enough, having only discovered your blog yesterday, and I am online every single day!)

    I did not say bloggers should not cover or question mainstream stuff. In fact it is incumbent on independent thinkers to do just that. But do you need awards, gongs, and mainstream validation for doing so?

  • Maman Poulet

    Who mentioned the need for gongs or mainstream validation? I certainly didn’t. There’s no need for that at all.

  • Alexia


    You sound terribly bitter. You say you only found Suzy’s blog yesterday but you seem hellbent on point out that she needs “awards, gongs, and mainstream validation for doing so?”

    Either you are incredibly fast at reading her blog or jumping to wild conclusions.

    Why are you so exercised about blogs about the political system and the belly-button fluffing, if you earlier say that they have little impact on the information you and your friends consume about politics?

  • shellshock

    Never mind the fact that the country and the economy is in a mess and the electorate may just bite back if they are tweeted or facebooked at.

    For exampled why weren’t a few bloggers asked to come to the regional seminars to cover the events?

    There doesn’t seem to be any party organised BSD event for bloggers, public relations types, guru wannabes this year – or if there is they haven’t told me about it anyway.

    I should not have assumed that you were into gongs, I took it from the first post that you are involved in that sort of thing. And the need for validation is based on the quotes in your blog. If I have it wrong, I stand corrected.


    stupid posts like yours are the reason that Irish blogging will never mature into a meaningful exchange of ideas and debate. You sound terribly irrational, attacking me on the basis of my few paltry words, It’s a pity you cannot behave on line as you would if I was standing in front of you, ie with some manners

  • Alexia


    I would totally say the same in person. Try and be rational. It’s only Monday.

  • Caroline

    Shellshocks – the last thing I would call MP is ‘mainstream’ but I would also ask you what you think mainstream is? People who see through bullshit and call it as it is or the pol corrs who like to keep their sources close to themselves, spin on behalf of parties and manipulate the news or even the political parties who want to control the way in which news is created and told. The latter is what MP challenges and what other bloggers examine and comment upon.

    Back to the subject of the post – Blue State Digital pride themselves at working with progressives – this could hardly be applied to Fianna Fáil could it?

  • shellshock


    well done, you out yourself as a troll in only 2 posts. I dont need to address you anymore, so please don’t bother with me again. Thanks


    I didn’t say MP was mainstream, in fact I am delighted to have come across the blog, ironically from the Sunday Times! Especially since MP is involved in disability advocacy, something I have utmost respect for, as a parent of a disabled child. So she walks the walk as well as talking the talk, unlike a lot of people who just sprout opinions with no experience to speak of.

    I agree with your analysis of what constitutes the mainstream, and I would be disappointed to see independent bloggers join in the melee of yes men. It is important that bloggers maintain their independance, that is my concern.

  • Allan Cavanagh

    Why don’t we just go home and watch it on Sky News?

  • Holemaster

    Nobody wants to engage with Fianna Fail. They are the slow dying alcoholic uncle who caused nothing but grief to those around him.

  • steve white

    the ignoring of “bloggers” is no accident,you’re never going to vote them, you’re not their target, they want to contact people directly, much like they prefer canvassing where they get the person on their own and can bamboozle them without the resident having anyone to back them up, which would more likely to happen on the web, they want to be able to contact people directly privately rather then having multi-way conversation which why labour uk went for phonebanks.BSD’s trick was to get volunteers to contact others by phone using the web to manage it,( and getting many small donations, cash! )
    has phone banking ever happened here?
    what would you say if ff activist rang up following the script saying “Hard decisions, Blaa blaa blaa?

    the ff website launch is prime example of we’ll call you when we want to use you.

    im not too keen on this idea that “bloggers” need to be contacted even if the talk is about a td using social media,im sure you could teach them to use it better and you’re readership could be as large as any constituency but online campaigning is about contacting and categorising everybody thats reachable online and more and ignoring the people that never going to vote for you, thats why they go to polling companies, marketing and direct mailing companies, i can’t think of any irish bloggers who go into it to that level (DM?), online political campaigning to them is not about inviting comment and critique its about getting their message out.

    this is good article on the use of direct mailing to target voters also is an example of web citizens breaking the direct one way targeted campaigning to have multiway conversation contrasting leaflets across the regions

    they maybe stepping beyond broadcasting but its not multiway yet

    so your advice to ff would be…? get involved in conversations…?

  • Ian

    @shellshock – please untwist your knickers

  • shellshock

    sorry I thought this was an intelligent discussion forum. Clearly not, I’ll get me coat……

  • Maman Poulet » State of the Nation again

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