Local Politicians Get On the Social Media Bandwagon – Or Do They?

Its election day in BC and as the voters head to the polls, I thought it would be a great idea to assess the social media presence of the candidates in my riding: Vancouver Quilchena. The political world has been all abuzz since Barack Obama successfully harnessed social media to reach the masses last winter, so lets see how the locals are doing in comparison.

Incumbent, Colin Hansen has a Twitter presence with over 200 followers but he only follows 39 people: many of those fellow Liberals or traditional media types and not exactly his target constituents. (Tip: Watch your follower to follower ration Colin if you want to attract voters.) Of his 26 updates only once did he interact with his community which breaks the “get social” Twitter rule. He has a Facebook presence and is doing a much better job with that, posting regularly and having over 270 followers. His YouTube Channel was last updated in early April with the post of an amateur video of supporters waving banners and cars honking at them: it adds no value and in fact wastes visitors time.

Green Party Candidate Laura Leah Shaw has a presence on Twitter and Facebook. On Twitter: she has updated twice; has 12 followers and is following 5 people; and her bio url links to her Remax page. On Facebook, her presence doesn’t even mention the fact that she is running. Laura I am sad to say, you fail on social media and even worse now that I have checked you out online, I don’t think I will be able to give you my vote after all. If you are going to set yourself up in social media, be sure to use your presence effectively if you don’t, it can to more damage and you might as well not bother.

Which leads me nicely to the NDP candidate James Young. He doesn’t have a presence on Twitter, Facebook or any other social media forum that I could find.

None of the candidates appear to have a blog which is perhaps just as well given the media backlash following Green Party leader Jane Sterk’s canned response on Rebecca’s blog (Miss 604).

Premier Gordon Campbell recognised the importance of social media for his campaign and he got his son Geoff who is VP Strategic Business Development – Sony DADC onto the project: According to a May 5 Vancouver Sun Article “Campbell fils spent some time last year during the U.S. presidential primary season watching how the Barack Obama campaign used social networking tools available through the Internet to galvanize young voters.” I guess that makes him a social media specialist then. That said, of all the parties, the Liberals do seem to be doing the best job of using social media.

I still haven’t decided who to vote for today. As a woman I feel very strongly that our foremothers fought a hard battle for the right to vote so I always do. Not one of these politicians or parties reached out to me or attracted my attention in any way in these forums – I had to track them down whilst researching this post. These parties and canditates have squandered an opportunity to attract key voters like me who are very active online and who are still on the fence. They have failed to follow in Barrack Obama’s foot steps.

If I were to predict a winner in my riding based on social media presence, it would be Colin Hansen. Now I am off to the polls to have my say.

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