U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron recently joined social networking sites LinkedIn and Foursquare in an effort to expand his digital presence and better connect with both citizens and businesses alike. On LinkedIn, Cameron will network with “people and businesses the PM meets regarding U.K. business, enterprise and manufacturing,” according to the official blog post from the PM’s office.
Meanwhile, on Foursquare, the PM will check-in to various venues in order to “illustrate the events the Prime Minister participates in during his day-to-day duties beyond Downing Street.”
Cameron, who has been in the news lately due to his creation of a new “porn filter” for U.K. Internet Service Providers, is already active on social networks including Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and even newcomer Google+. Adding Foursquare and LinkedIn to the list highlights the increasing importance those services have in today’s digital landscape.
That said, the LinkedIn effort is a bit odd since most people use the service for as a place to maintain their online resume and look for job opportunities through their business connections. It’s not typically thought of as a communications platform for politicians. However, it should be interesting to see what happens as a result of the PM’s joining. Will other politicians think to do the same? Or will they stick to more social sites like Facebook and Twitter?
At any rate, seeing a LinkedIn profile for someone of Cameron’s caliber does take a step towards humanizing the man, who, like many other high-caliber politicians, is often thought of as more of an abstract figure than an actual person. It’s refreshing to read his resume that begins simply “I became Prime Minister after the General Election in May 2010,” as if he’s just some other guy talking about what he does for a living. (It’s also pretty fun when you find out that you’re a 3rd degree connection with him!)
The PM’s Foursquare account provides a somewhat voyeuristic look at what a politician does, by tracking who Cameron is meeting with, when and why. Over the past few weeks, before the official announcement was posted, the PM was already checking in to venues including New York, Ontario, the House of Commons and more. It would be more helpful, however, if the PM would consistently check into actual venues, instead of city-sized venues like “Ottawa.” (That’s not how you’re supposed to do it, sir.)
In addition, the Foursquare account provides “tips” to its followers (which appear upon their check-in to particular venues like 10 Downing St.) that provide bits of trivia or history about the venue, such as historical facts, ghost stories and links to related resources on the Web. For example, did you know No. 10 has a resident cat called Larry in charge of pest control? Thanks to Foursquare, I do now. Oh, and in case you’re interested, you can see Flickr photos of Larry hanging around the cabinet here on Flickr, too.