There seems a certain irony when our politicians have been pushing for a faster internet and Gordon Brown is claiming "in five years time we can be the digital leader of the world" that very few of them seem to know how to make use of it.
This election is the first when all the possibilities of social networking could have been used to great advantage, but it seems they haven't because few of the campaigning candidates know how to use it properly.
Oh sure, many have the necessary Facebook page or a blog, or a Twitter account but they seem to be tokenistic and set up with no understanding of how they can and should be leveraged to gain maximum advantage.
Of my three main local candidates, the Conservative has a website with links to a blog which has not been updated since April 4th, a link to his campaign trail information which has not been updated since April 16th and a news page which was last updated April 4th. He does not appear to have Facebook. He has, however, had two leaflet drops so far.
My Lib Dem candidate has Twitter (last update yesterday) does not seem to have a webpage and has a blog which was last updated today (but four days before that).
As for Labour, I think there is a support group on Facebook but I have no idea about any other methods - which I find very surprising as her retiring predecessor, Derek Wyatt, was way ahead of many politicians in his use of the internet and distributing information. (I have already written about my difficulty in getting any information about her though)
We are living in a communication age where attention spans are becoming very short. If the message is not continually fired out to people, they forget and move somewhere else.
It is not difficult to keep your name in the forefront of people's minds nowadays. A simple Twitter posting does not take much time and gives an insight into the type of person you are. However, while it may be tempting to use it to attack the opposition it is far better to put a more positive, alternative view and let the reader make their own mind up.
Communication on the internet is cheap, so the time taken to maintain contact with your intended audience is just that - time.
How may candidates are gathering email addresses while campaigning so they can follow up with an email newsletter to keep people updated on their progress and views?
Communicating using social networking is the classic snowball scenario - you start with a small handful, roll it down a hill and as the momentum picks up, the snowball becomes huge.
Time for our would be MPs to start rolling the ball.....or get someone to do it for them.
It's a no loss, small cost, gigantic advantage!