We have compiled a list of lobbyists using Twitter on the @sunfoundation account so citizens can follow what some of them are up to. This list, which includes over 200 lobbyists, is only a sample of lobbyists using the service and we hope to add more.
How did we make the list? By querying Twitter’s API, we tried to match the names of thousands of registered lobbyists from Center for Responsive Politics data with Twitter user names. Because Twitter only allows a limited number of queries each day, matches were only attempted for about one fourth of the over 15,000 lobbyists that were registered in 2009 or 2010. When a lobbyist’s name matched a Twitter user name, and when more biographical data matched the details in the Twitter profile, the account was included in our list. Then, we supplemented the list by searching Twitter for lobbyists we are familiar with and top spending lobbying firms.
As both a communications professional and a lobbyist, [John] Feehery sees the potential for lobbyists to make use of both Twitter and Facebook in the influence business.
“To be an effective advocate you have to use social media. Whether you call yourself a lobbyist, a public affairs person or a strategist, if you don’t include social media in your offering you’re just not really playing,” he said.
Yet are hurdles for lobbyists to jump over, he said. “Most lobbyists are policy people…they typically don’t do that in social media world—typically in one-on-one communications,” Feehery said. “I don’t think lobbyists are going to use Twitter per se because I don’t think lobbyists understand public communications and how to communicate to a wider audience.”