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Erik Wemple
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Posted at 04:09 PM ET, 08/02/2011

Gingrich Twitter inquiry: Where’s the leader?

A scramble is on to investigate the integrity of the 1.3 million-person Twitter following of Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. Gawker yesterday reported the allegations of a former campaign aide who charged that the candidate had paid “agencies” to generate followers. An Internet search firm then ran a test on Gingrich’s followership, estimating that just 8 percent of it was bona fide.

A Gingrich campaign aide has denied it all to National Review Online, calling the story “a false accusation which will hurt the feelings of 1.3 million people. #rude.” Ben Smith of Politico tosses some cold water on the notion as well.

Leave the followership investigation to the techies.

Meanwhile, a more important question is how Gingrich has cultivated his following. What type of Twitter magic has he put out there to pull people in?

A close textual analysis of the Newt feed reveals four brands of tweets. Here we go:

Category 1: Lifeless campaign trail updates:

Had great lunch at Mabe's Pizza-a Decorah landmark.less than a minute ago via Twitter for BlackBerry® Favorite Retweet Reply

Suggested tweet upgrade: Oh boy, never tasted pizza sauce quite like the stuff @ Mabe’s. No wonder it’s a landmark!

Category 2: Pedantic, self-referential plugs

Visited Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville GA. They have largest collection of Don Troiani. His art is in my history novel Gettysburg.less than a minute ago via Twitter for BlackBerry® Favorite Retweet Reply

Suggested tweet upgrade: Who’s got the biggest collection of Don Troiani? You got it — Booth Western Art Museum!

Category 3: Service Journalism

Text of my address to Republican Jewish Coalition last night: http://t.co/xKwHisfless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

Suggested tweet upgrade: I just told an audience, “America is in the midst of an economic crisis.” More: http://t.co/xKwHisf

Category 4: TV debate-style rhetoric

The president's threat to veto cut-cap-balance act shows he's out of touch w/ the American people: http://t.co/fqe2rogless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

Suggested tweet upgrade: Obama to veto cut-cap-balance? More arugula, please!

Whatever the number of earned Gingrich followers, this guy doesn’t deserve 1.3 million.

By  |  04:09 PM ET, 08/02/2011

 
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