Summary of Results

  • 69% use social networks whereas previously only 33% used social networks extensively.
  • 29% write a personal blog, compared to 40% in 2009.
  • 34% are on Twitter, up from 21%.
While MEPs continue to make use of a wide range of channels to communicate, the most notable developments since 2009 have been the doubling of social network uptake (mainly Facebook), the rising popularity of Twitter (but by a far smaller margin), and the decline in blogging, due in part to the time intensive nature of blogging and the immediately accessible audiences which Facebook and Twitter provide.
  • 88% deem national media coverage effective in communicating with voters whilst personal contact is the most valued with 95% calling it effective.
  • 61% consider social networks as effective channels of communication but only 31% felt the same way about Twitter.
  • 78% consider personal websites effective whilst only 12% call online video very effective.
Personal contact and media coverage are still viewed by MEPs as the most effective communications tools although there is a marked attitude shift towards social media, especially social networks. This confidence does not apply to all channels: many respondents feel that Twitter is ineffective, likely because it is being used as a broadcast mechanism rather than an opportunity to engage (arguably the appropriate use of the channel). Despite these developments, MEPs still believe that websites are the most effective online communication channel while most view video as ineffective, in an age in which YouTube attracts up to 2 billion clicks a day.
  • 30% of those who employ blogs and 33% who tweet use two or more languages (English being the predominant second language).
  • 73% and 57% of bloggers and Twitter users say the greatest benefit is ‘expressing views directly’.
  • 28% say greatest benefit of Twitter is dialogue versus 15% for blogs.
Concerns are often raised about the language barrier inherent in Twitter and blogging. Nonetheless, one in three respondents who blog or tweet also do so in a second language, indicating a commitment to reaching a broader audience. However, of those who tweet and/or blog, the greatest benefit was universally named as ‘expressing views to constituents’ rather than ‘engaging in conversation’ which explains why many MEPs miss the opportunity for discussion and so do not consider these tools as highly effective.
  • 95% visit online versions of traditional newspapers several times a week.
  • 82% are also reading online EU-focused media.
All MEPs use the internet extensively to research their daily legislative work. Media remains key with both traditional and EU-focused news being regularly followed, indicating an interesting overlap between traditional media and digital: digital tools are increasingly used as the gateway to the traditional media.
  • 80% visit interest group sites every week.
  • 80% of MEPs are looking for simple summaries of issues when researching online.
  • 78% think issue websites are important, which is 5% more than the organisation sites.
Interest group websites are also valuable sources of information, in particular when they provide summaries of issues, although MEPs still appreciate in-depth reports. Specific issue websites are valued more than generic organisation websites, which implies that producing separate, specialised content on key issues through microsites for example is a highly viable approach when communicating with MEPs.