In April 2009, Mayor Tom Bates opened his Twitter account. Since then… silence. Three years have passed without a single tweet, although Bates has garnered 309 followers for his silence.
That’s all set to change, the mayor says.
“I’m getting ready,” Bates said to Berkeleyside. “I thought was was time for me to join the new generation. Berkeley is supposed to be where things start, but in this case, we’re going to be followers.”
Bates cited many other mayors that have taken to the twittersphere with aplomb: locally, Oakland’s Jean Quan and San Francisco’s Ed Lee (who successfully pushed for Twitter’s tax break for its mid-Market headquarters); nationally Newark’s Cory Booker, Portland’s Sam Adams, Los Angeles’ Antonio Villaraigosa. He might have added New York’s Michael Bloomberg (who has also inspired a prominent parody account, Miguel Bloombito), Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel and London’s Boris Johnson.
“I’m hoping to make some announcements in the next couple of weeks,” Bates said. Most followers of Berkeley politics expect Bates to run for reelection this November.
When asked whether he’d rival Twitter expert Booker, who even tweeted from an ambulance to the emergency room last Friday, Bates sounded cautious. “I’ll probably do it from my computer,” he said. “But everything will be done out of the office. It’s not a city account.”
Bates isn’t a complete social networking novice. His Facebook page has 2,886 “friends” and is a very active account. “We try to keep that pretty fresh,” Bates said. “That’s a city account, so it’s not political at all.”
Comparing the tweeting mayors
It goes without saying that no mayor can touch Cory Booker when it comes to tweeting. First, he has (at time of writing) 1,134,878 followers. He has 14,514 tweets. #CoryBookerStories has been a trending hashtag since he rescued a woman from a burning building last Friday. The Wall Street Journal wrote about the rescue, but also Storified the hagiographic Booker tweets. Sample: “One time I needed a kidney. Cory Booker instantly ripped out his own, handed it to me & flew away.”
To put Booker’s following in perspective, Newark has a population of 277,140 — so Booker has over four followers for every person in Newark. There’s also a definite personal voice in Booker’s tweets. Many, if not all, come from the mayor himself. That doesn’t appear to be the case with, for example, Bloomberg, Villaraigosa or Johnson (who are all running far larger cities). How do other tweeting mayors do? Check out our table of mayors in the twittersphere: