Your vote by tweet?

I met the Sky political editor Adam Boulton recently and I was asking

him about Sky plans for integrating social media tools, such as Twitter, into

the general election coverage. It seems like a perfect opportunity for media

companies to crossover and offer something that truly integrates social media

into what they do on a daily basis.

Adam was excited – particularly when I explained to him that the BBC

Question Time programme has an amazing Twitter following. When Question Time is

broadcast on BBC1, there is an incredible online debate that takes place live

online and is not moderated – it just happens and thousands participate.

The three televised general election leader debates have just been

agreed, and the first thing I noticed about them was that there are 76 rules

that broadcasters must follow, covering everything from the height of the

podiums used to the way that cutaway shots can show audience reaction.

It would be easy to criticise the stage-management of the TV debates,

but clearly some rules are needed to ensure impartiality by broadcasters. What

is going to be more exciting though is if the three broadcasters participating

in the TV debates can agree on how they will encourage online participation in

the debates. Will they all agree on hashtags? Will they seed the debate by

getting some contributions online before each debate takes place? Will they be

blogging summaries of the key points in each debate?

I suspect it’s not at all likely that there is going to be a

coordinated approach to this, but it would be a missed opportunity to really

demonstrate how social media can be used to connect disparate views in a

meaningful way.